Biodynamic Viticulture. It’s interesting how controversial this term is. For many who don’t get it, biodynamic viticulture is simply dismissed as hocus pocus, voodoo vineyard crapola. Those who practice biodynamic viticulture seem to have a near cultish belief in it. I don’t need a double-blind scientific study to ‘prove’ that biodynamic wine is better in some way, because ‘better’ determined by each individual. For me, I dig it! I have a huge respect for biodynamic practioners because of the commitment they make in being good stewards of their land and allowing the land to speak through their fruit.
Randall Graham, Masseur de Raisin of Bonny Doon, is one of the most outspoken proponents of biodynamacism (is that a word?) in the US. Never met him. Would like to. Have read a bit about him. Seems cerebral and quite possibly a certifiable crazy dude. He is definitely on my short list of wine people I would like to hang out with and drink wine.
I took the occasion of a recent trip to San Jose to drive down to Santa Cruz to visit the Bonny Doon tasting room. The tasting room staff was great – funny, engaged and could intelligently talk about the wine and philosophy of Bonny Doon.
I bought several bottles… and yes I bought a freaking matching glass. The guy at the tasting room totally up sold me. I felt like total dork setting up this photo on my deck with the matching glass. I know this totally smacks of some schmoe that has no clue what he’s doing. Oh wait… I don’t.
The first bottle that I opened from the Bonny Doon stash is the 2003 Le Cigare Volant.
Purchased this at the tasting room for $27.
Le Cigare Volant is a blend of 38% grenache, 35% syrah, 12% mourvedre, 8% carignane and 7% cinsault.
Real cork closure. 13.5 % alcohol (I feel they rounded down on this one).
6,140 cases made.
On the nose I got a blackberry/raisiny component along with an intense tobacco note that ‘burned off’ as the wine opened up. This one also had hints of my in-laws garage. (Editorial Note: I’m not sure if I should blow my nose or do one of those painful nostril irrigations prior to sniffing, but I am really picking up a lot of dusty, basement, earthy components in wine lately.) Good mouth feel and reasonably well balanced. In the mouth I got backed blackberry, spice and earth on the finish which I liked. This wine is not a pure breed from a biodynamic perspective. I believe only the 38% grenache comes from Bonny Doon’s Soledad biodynamic vineyard.
The name Le Cigare Volant… (taken from BonnyDoonVineyard.com)
‘Named after the dirigible or cigar-shaped UFOs
seen over the vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Le Cigare Volant –
literally, “The Flying Cigar” – pays homage not only to the wines of that
celebrated appellation, but to all forays into the world of the magical and
To learn more about Randall Graham’s meditation of terroir, you can read his ‘Phenomenology of Terroir’ article at Appellation America: