52% Grenache, 35% Cinsault, 13% Syrah
48% Alta Loma, 35% Loma Del Rio, 6% Mesa Verde, 6% Zayante, 4% Rancho Solo 1% Lieff
Drinkable upon release (8/2019) with ageability of 7-10 years
2018 Le Cigare Volant, “Cuvée Oumuamua"
Red Wine of the Earth
2018 was a wonderfully cool vintage, providing us grapes with great natural acidity and a real vibrancy of flavor. The color is a deep, vivid violet-red, owing in part to the lower pH of the wine. On the nose, the wine has a haunting kirsch note (I suspect that’s the Cinsault), along with associated small red fruits (red and black currant) and perhaps a suggestion of blackberry. My colleague, Nicole Walsh, and I toil away at the Cigare blend every year, and while the blend changes (sometimes radically, as it has this year), we share an idea of the Platonic form of Cigare, and the ‘18 still certainly embodies that form. It goes something like this: juiciness, fruit (but not confected or overripe), brightness, exuberance, joy, and not least, a sense of savoriness. I realize I’m not speaking orthodox wine parlance. We look above all for balance and liveliness, for vinous qi. This wine is still incredibly young and just wants to jump out of its shoes.
The Alta Loma Vineyard in the Arroyo Seco area of Monterey County, was planted years back to one of the earlier selections of the Tablas Creek Grenache clones, typically not a great selection for imparting real backbone or structure to the wine, but capable of making a wine that is enormously pretty and fragrant. In cool years, the fragrance of cassis or black currant is almost overpowering; most surprisingly, the Grenache in cool years from this vineyard is profoundly black in color. The Cinsault was sourced from the Loma del Rio Vineyard, a vineyard, under a previous nom de guerre (San Bernabe), we know quite well.
This was the first year of production for the Cinsault and it was thinned multiple times for both enhanced concentration and evenness of ripening. The cooler climate gives the Cinsault a wonderful articulation of flavor, but what is most noteworthy is the fact that we were able to co-ferment the Cinsault with Syrah from the equally cool Mesa Verde Vyd. in the Santa Ynez Valley. Something magical happens when Syrah and Cinsault marry; the healthy tannin titer from the Syrah seems to give more structure to the Cinsault, helping to stabilize the color, and in general, insure that the blend will not evanesce tout de suite into the aetherial plane. The spicy, licorice component from the Syrah is a perfect foil to the Griotte cherry derived from the Cinsault.
We call this cuvée, “Oumuamua,” (or “scout” in Hawaiian), in light of the recent mysterious cigar-shaped object/visitor to our solar system. It was initially imagined to be some sort of asteroid, but is now believed by none other than the chairman of the Astronomy Dept. at Harvard University to possibly be a sort of probe, (perhaps a solar-powered light-sail) sent on a kind of reconaissance mission to check us out. (Ok, this last part is a bit of interpolation.) Anyhoo, it has been agreed that this was a very, very strange object that recently came to visit. And it appears that it may have arrived in the very nick of time, to bring a sort of much-needed revitalization to our planet, and by metaphoric extension, to the Cigare brand itself.
Ingredients: grapes, sulfur dioxide. In the winemaking process, the following were utilized: Yeast, yeast nutrients, French oak chips, and copper sulfate.