After my visit to Bonny Doon’s Davenport tasting room where I got to chat one-on-one with owner and winemaker Randall Grahm — which was both fun and educational — I couldn’t help but go home with, what I thought, was the most outstanding wine of the 12 I tasted that day: 2011 Le Cigare Blanc.

About the Wine: Le Cigare Blanc is the white wine of Bonny Doon’s Le Cigare Volant series, which pays homage to the complex Rhones of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. What Randall loves most about French Rhone wines is their ability to speak of a specific time and place, and this is what he strives to do with his California Vineyard wines.

This particular Rhone-style wine is made of 62% Grenache Blanc and 38% Roussanne grapes from Beeswax Vineyard (which definitely comes through in the smell and taste — see Flavor Profile below) in Arroyo Secco, Monterey County. 14.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: The faint golden color, slightly muddled due to lack of filtration, is reminiscent of sunshine breaking through on a cloudy day. This sight gives way to an intense aroma. “This wine has some ‘funk’ to it,” I said. “This wine’s got a “stank” to it,” said my partner. And we mean “funk” and “stank” in the most complimentary ways possible: it’s unique, it’s bold, it’s full-bodied — and that’s just the nose of the wine! The predominant aroma is that of honey (or perhaps beeswax), secondary aromas include melon, and maybe just a subtle hint of tropical fruits (grapefruit or pomelo, maybe a bit of pineapple). And these aromas follow through on to the palate as well. The best part is there’s an acidic kick to it that cuts through the fruits oh so delicately, adding interest and depth. But, I believe it’s because of the Roussanne, the mouthfeel of this wine is quite smooth, almost cream-like in texture. This combination of soft fruits, acid, and cream, gives the wine the perfect balance between sweet, spicy, and savory, with the added interest of tickling the tip of that mysterious taste sense — umami.

Food Pairing: This wine is just calling out for fresh shellfish or a smooth, meaty white fish like sea bass or halibut. Play to the creamy texture of the wine and consider béchamel or beurre blanc sauces and then highlight the subtlety of the mellow fruits by utilizing vibrant green herbs. Of course if you want to get “funky,” add freshly-grated aged parmesan and play up that “stank.”

I think fresh is the theme when planning a meal to pair with this wine because the wine really does speak of California terrior and all its sunshine and coastal beauty.

More Info: I purchased this wine at the tasting room with my industry discount. It is available on their site for puchase (Price: $28 Member Price: $23.80). I’ve also seen the 2013 vintage available at Whole Foods.

For more information about Randall and Bonny Doon Vineyard, read my re-cap of my Bonny Doon tasting room visit and, of course, check out their website.

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