For less than $17, this juicy red wine will take you to Rhone and back
The sale of Bonny Doon gives us an opportunity to taste some of the core wines that will stick around, as well as those that will be discontinued. This week's list includes the revamped flagship red, Le Cigare Volant, and the popular Vin Gris de Cigare. Both of these will remain part of the Bonny Doon line. Fans who want to splurge should look for the Old Telegram before its message fades away. Other selections include an outstanding Côtes du Rhône and a delicious cabernet sauvignon from Washington State's Columbia Valley.
Ratings: Three stars: exceptional; two stars: excellent; one star: very good.
Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Volant "Cuvée Oumuamua" 2018
Three stars, Monterey County, California, $23
Le Cigare Volant has been Bonny Doon's flagship wine since the first vintage in 1984. Randall Grahm named it for a little-known 1954 ordinance passed by the town of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, in the southern Rhone Valley, banning "flying cigars," or UFOs. With the 2018 vintage, Grahm changed the style to a lighter-bodied wine meant for early drinking rather than extended cellar aging. This blend of grenache, cinsault and syrah is lithe and racy, with aromas of cherries and spice, and a lovely hint of grapefruit rind on the finish. Alcohol by volume: 13.5 percent.
Bonny Doon Vineyard Old Telegram 2016
Three stars, Contra Costa County, California, $55
Old Telegram is Grahm's tribute to the brawny wines of Bandol. Made entirely from mataro, or mourvedre, this wine has inky color and spicy aromas of pepper and clove, followed by flavors of Bing cherries and wild herbs. It makes a great match for stews or grilled meats, but it is also deceptively seductive on its own. ABV: 14 percent.
La Bastide Saint Dominique Côtes-du-Rhône 2018
Great value: Three stars, Rhone Valley, France, $16.50
The flavors of this lovely wine -- wild herb notes known as garrigue -- followed by blackberry, plum, mushroom and earth, should grab your attention with the first sip. The blend, made from organic grapes, is 60 percent grenache, with the balance as syrah. Who knew a trip to the hill towns of southern France costs only $16.50 when propelled on the wings of your imagination? ABV: 14.5 percent.
Requiem Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Two and a half stars, Columbia Valley, Washington, $22
Despite its solemn name, this delicious wine should bring a smile to your face. Cassis and blackberry flavors, with a hint of herbs and a plush texture highlight a sunny ripeness. ABV: 14.8 percent.
Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris de Cigare 2018
Two stars, Central Coast, California, $20
Grahm scored a hit with this Vin Gris de Cigare long before rosé became a craze. The wine is a blend of traditional Rhone grapes, with a third of the blend being white varieties. This wine has been reliably good year after year. ABV: 13.5 percent.
• Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.