93 Points Wine Enthusiast ~ 66% Grenache Blanc, 34% Roussanne
This is the fifth iteration of Le Cigare Blanc Réserve, and we continue to learn more about the mysteries of élevage in glass demijohn. This wine is the same blend as our standard issue Cigare Blanc, apart from the fact that we’ve allowed it to undergo malolactic fermentation, and at that point, we gave it a light SO2 addition, racked it to glass demijohn (bonbonne), where it reposed for a year and a half, getting anaerobically stirred more or less fortnightly.
$48.00 per bottle / $518.40 per case
$40.80 per bottle / $460.80 per case (Members)
I have written in various places about the inspiration to age wine in demijohns/carboys/bonbonnes. Some of it has come from my fascination with oxidation/reduction chemistry, an aspect of wine art/science not well understood and its importance greatly unappreciated. Years ago, as a young pup I tasted wine from carboy with Dan Wheeler of Nicasio Cellars in his do-it-yourself-hand-dug cave in Soquel, and was astonished at how youthful were the wines, twenty plus years later, almost as if they had been placed in suspended animation. At about the same time, I also happened to taste the wines from Emidio Pepe in Abruzzo, who also aged his product in demijohns, likewise evincing extraordinary youthfulness and vitality.
This is the fifth iteration of Le Cigare Blanc Réserve, and we
continue to learn more about the mysteries of élevage in glass
demijohn. The Burgundians have long understood the power
of a reductive élevage, albeit en barrique typically, that is to say,
the presence of a significant percentage of lees in the wine as
the wine ages contributes both to a textural richness via yeast
autolysis, and the slight reductive funkiness (presumably trace
levels of mercaptan) contributing both to the distinctive toasty,
hazelnut nose, as well as to a sort of energized zinginess, a
kind of recharging of the wine’s battery, as it were. Thus, the
inspiration of this work with bonbonnes, and the effort to push
the distinctiveness of this type of élevage to a new boundary.
With this in mind, one finds in the Cigare Blanc Réserve many
of the qualities that one has come to love in white Burgundy—a
lush, creamy texture, a haunting suggestion of the skin of pear
(or is it quince?), as well as absolutely formidable length on the
The wine derives entirely from the Beeswax Vineyard, located at the
mouth of the Arroyo Seco. The Beeswax Vineyard is well-named as this wine reliably
suggests the fragrance of beeswax as a dominant scent; a subtle
fragrance of sage or fennel is also quite reliably found in this
wine from vintage to vintage.
We did some small encouraging experiments years ago, then
more or less forgot about them until relatively recently, at
which point we began the carboy ageing project with red Cigare.
It wasn’t until ’09 that it dooned on me that perhaps there were
even more interesting things to discover with the white. To
refresh everyone’s memory, this wine is more or less the same
blend as our standard issue Cigare Blanc, apart from the fact
that we’ve allowed it to undergo malolactic fermentation, and
at that point, we gave it a light SO2 addition, racked it to glass
demijohn (bonbonne), where it reposed for a year and a half,
getting anaerobically stirred more or less fortnightly.
Food Pairing Notes
This wine might be thought of
as a “meditation wine,” i.e. most suitable with the simplest
fare, especially cheese, but will also pair very nicely with rich
dishes—lobster (and fennel) risotto, scallops, and of course, sea
urchin (the uni-versal solvent). DEWN member Stephen Majoros suggests grilled swordfish with wasabi-lime sauce, and we agree!
INGREDIENTS: Grapes and sulfur dioxide.
In the winemaking process, the following were utilized:
Indigenous yeast, yeast nutrients, and bentonite.