Has Bonny Doon Vineyard finally lost it?



Or have they found it? Bonny Doon Vineyard is back on top, or bottom, depending on your perspective. After years building a lucrative wine empire the always surprising original bad boy of the California wine industry has decided it's time to downsize. A leaner, meaner Bonny Doon Vineyard is returning to its roots, producing a more focused portfolio of wines born of authentic passion.
Now I know what you're thinking, it must be the economy but really it's not. It's simply a passionate man's focus on doing what he loves and what Randall Grahm loves is wines that are original, natural and unique. Realizing how difficult that can be for a winery producing near a half million cases of wine Randall knew it was time for a change, and this was certainly a change for the better! With the revamped Bonny Doon Vineyard the focus is once again on principled winemaking, custom tailored to each wine's needs. At each step of the winemaking process the winery is focused on providing the consumer with a great experience.

Whether that means replacing corks with screwcaps for all the wines to prevent cork taint or using indigenous yeasts and minimally interventive winemaking techniques, the end goal is to allow each wine to fully express its nuance and detail in all its glory. These steps and attention to detail are what makes these wines stand out from an ever more crowded pack.

So what should you expect from a bottle of Bonny Doon Vineyard?

The short answer is: surprise. Not only are the wines a little offbeat, though the Southern Rhone styled Le Cigare Volant seems much more mainstream than when it originally came on the scene in the mid 1980s, they are full of subtle yet complex flavors. These wines capture the sheer exuberance that California is famous for yet never lose the elegance and finesse that is frequently the price paid for working with such a favorable climate.

2004 Le Cigare Volant
This classic Southern Rhone blend is worthy of your attention, if not for the intriguing name then surely for the wonderful fragrant nose full of flowers, herb de Provence, meaty dried fruit tones and a hint of pepper. On the palate this is refreshing and balanced with the fruit, savory and herbal notes all playing off each other and delivering fine complexity and depth. This screams for roast lamb by the way.

And about that name, in 1954 the world was in the middle of a full fledged fascination with UFOs. The village council of Chateauneuf-du-Pape knew something had to be done. With remarkable speed an ordinance was passed banning flying saucers, les Cigares Volant, from landing in their vineyards. The measure has proven to be 100% successful!

2006 Le Cigare Blanc
This fascinating blend of 75% Grenache Blanc and 25% Roussane is bursting with Asian pear, quince and pineapple tones with wonderful accents of almond milk, minerals and honied tones. This would be a perfect match for grilled fish this summer, especially if some tropical fruit salsa might be involved!

2007 Le Vol des Anges This is a perfect summer dessert in a glass. Remarkably perfumed with tea and smoke notes framing the orange marmalade and dried apricot aromatics. In the mouth this is sweet but neither heavy nor cloying and offers up rich orange peel and orchard fruit notes with wonderful floral hints and just a whisper of exotic tropical fruit then finishes with just a touch of almond and waxy honeycomb. Break out the runny, washed-rind cheeses please.

We hope you enjoy these wines as much as I have. Cheers!

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