Le Cigare Blanc 2015 – a pairing, a look back and a look forward

Le Cigare Blanc & Turmeric-mojo shrimp with roasted carrots and poblano

This wasn’t meant to be a post. It was supposed to be a quick dinner and a bottle of wine. We didn’t even really plan the pairing, we just knew it would be a white wine.

I’ve been thinking about Bonny Doon and Randall Grahm quite a bit lately. I had just seen his tweet about writing his last DEWN club letter and being a bit emotional. So, I was a bit nostalgic when Michael brought up the 2015 Le Cigare Blanc.

Randall sold Bonny Doon back in January of 2020 to WarRoom Ventures. So the tasting room is gone…the beautiful one across from Bonny Doon beach in Davenport California. All of those amazing wines, some made in carboys, the festive and clever labels and art… The club shipment, going out next month, would be the last.

The new owners will continue with just 4 wines, the most popular of course. the flagship red Rhône blend Le Cigare Volant; Le Cigare Blanc (the later version based on Vermentino); Vin Gris de Cigare (a Rhône varietal rosé); and a 100% Picpoul. They will just make a lot more of each of these wines.

It feels like the end of an era. Randall, the original Rhône Ranger, has been making beautiful, quirky wines with Bonny Doon since he founded it in 1983. It’s the playful while scientific exploration that I will miss most. Interesting varieties, made in interesting ways. I discovered it all too late in my wine exploration and was not able to sample nearly enough of these wines.

But let’s get to the…

Le Cigare Blanc 2015

Le Cigare Volant Blanc 2015 from Bonny Doon
Le Cigare Blanc 2015 from Bonny Doon

This wine is 55% Grenache Blanc, 39% Roussanne and 9% Picpoul. The grapes hail from the Beeswax Vineyard on the Central Coast, in the Arroyo Seco region of Monterey County.

This wine was a full yellow/gold color and when first opening the bottle and pouring, I got notes of Petrol, or lanolin. It came off a little like a Semillon, quite honestly. As it opened, I got notes of Asian Pear, Lime Pith and citrus fruit. It was dry, full and had a long finish.

While I enjoyed the wine, I felt it was missing something. I sincerely feel that we opened it in a closed phase. The tropical notes from original tasting notes I read, had all disappeared and that Roussanne had yet to blossom into the wonderousness that it will eventually become. So… more sadness. It’s the only bottle I had. I will not have the opportunity to taste this again when it has matured a bit, and I missed the chance to taste it when it was younger. That’s the thing, wines change…the world changes. So, I will just sit and, like Randall writing his newsletter, be a little emotional about the fact that this bottle is now gone.

Turmeric-mojo Shrimp with roasted carrots and poblano
Turmeric-mojo Shrimp with roasted carrots and poblano from Sun Basket to pair with the Le Cigar Blanc 2015

Pairing with Tumeric shrimp & poblanos

I had already started our dinner from Sun Basket, which was Turmeric-mojo shrimp with roasted carrots and poblano. I was a bit skeptical of this dish as I prepared it, but it came together and was really good!

How was the pairing? It was fine. The food was good, the wine was good. Sometimes that has to be enough. I have a feeling I will be pretty stingy about pulling out bottles of Bonny Doon from the cellar to drink from now on. It’s okay, I will sit patiently and wait, while Randall works away at Popelouchum, his new (well new as in started in 2011) project in San Juan Bautista, building a vineyard from scratch. At Popelouchum he is propagating new vines and putting together a New World Grand Cru. I know it will be worth the wait.

More on Bonny Doon

We’ve written about Randall and Bonny Doon before. Here’s a list of some of our other pieces you might want to peruse.

Sources & resources

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Robin Renken CSW (photo credit RuBen Permel)

Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.

When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.

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