As our story unfolds, we learn that with the 2018 vintage, there has been a fundamental change in the style of Le Cigare Volant. Not that there was anything at all “wrong” with the thirty-four vintages preceding the current one, mind you. For a number of reasons, mostly, alas, drearily fiscal/economical, the older style of Cigare has unfortunately proven to be a not particularly sustainable proposition at least from a financial perspective. The “new” Cigare, with a re-adjustment of the encépagement, by which we have dropped Mourvèdre from the mix and elevated the percentage of the (greatly underappreciated) and quite brilliant variety, Cinsault, creates a style of wine far more approachable and seductive in its youth.
We call this cuvée, “Oumuamua,” (or “scout” in Hawaiian), so named in light of the recent mysterious cigar-shaped object/visitor to our solar system, initially imagined to be some sort of asteroid, but 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 reconnaissance 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.
2018 was a wonderful cool vintage, providing us grapes with great natural acidity and 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 nose (I suspect that’s the Cinsault), along with associated small red fruit (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 will change (sometimes radically, as it has this year), we share an idea of the Platonic form of Cigare, and the ‘17 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 for liveliness, for vinous qi. This wine is still incredibly young and just wants to jump out of its shoes.