Xavier's wines handcrafted in the Rhone Valley Revisited.
What are the stylistics of contemporary CDPs? I asked this question in my MW class years back because I saw the market and product requirements for more structure of the domination grape Grenache and asked for a solution, if any.
Where some friends venture to change the composition to include more Syrah, and fellow wine-maker students did eventually work on that, Xavier, who handcrafted his wines in Rhone, seems to have re-iterated the solution he had during the tasting: he uses blending and found out the GSM grapes that can compensate for the loss of the acidity- an obvious example is his Barbare Estate Cuvee 2012 which showed excellent lost rigidity of the low ph now found in Turkey. Using old trees and never grafted roots is the other attempt, when he cited examples of the great success from the basic-Du -Rhone Rouges 2018, for which he painstakingly blended 76 parcels of land with trees aged from 100 to 45 years. He believed old vines give rigidity. Another example is Giondas 2019, an effort of co-fermenting grapes from some 80-100-year-old trees. Also, his other wine, Arcane, is from 100-year-old trees.
Eventually, I tasted and wrote on the wines Xavier showed me yesterday afternoon, 14 April 2023.
A delicious wine. In the spirit of making NV champagne, Xanier's Chateau du Pape Blanc de Noir Almutia is an across vintage and blanc and noir grapes, using white juice. Orchard and stone fruit-fresh; floral(lavender); almost looks oily. The palate is intensely citrus, radiating, with a complete and spiced finish: tea leaves and some milder dry fruit surface over time in the second sip. The structure intensifies after 30 minutes—an excellent fruit length for a simple wine. This little white is a great introduction to his friendly wines as if they are any great beverage, bending across vintages and terroir, among other things- good balance, great intensity, good complexity and reasonably long length. In addition, it has a unique chance and texture of its own. I will buy this wine.
Another nice wine. A Cote-du-Rhone 2018 this fresh is something interesting; if it has some Beaujolais taints, the colour is shiny and bright ruby with a tight pink rim. There are hovering tones of violets, lavender, focused cherry and blueberry fruit; the core is meatily tight, with cloves and nutmeg, skin bitterness and dark chocolate finishing elements. Many fine tannins are still edgy and add nicely to the texture of the finish, which is rare in a basic entry wine. There is intensity and radiance. Pleasant surprises- becoming expansive and entirely in taste after 30 minutes. Alcohol is balanced; acceptable length.
Energy, energy, energy. Arcane Le Soleil 2015 is coloured clear deep ruby with pink tones. Now fasten your seatbelt. Fuller and sweetly spiced, the nose is red fruit driven with tones of ripe blueberries. A bit plasticky on the nose to start, but the fruit energized extremely well after some minutes. Understandably malolactic fermentation and ageing for 18 to 48 months depending on parcels, masked and suppressed the nose. 85% aged wood and 15% new oak were used. Weaknesses are: mid-palate too strong, perceived abv on the high side, fruit is masked. I may keep some bottles for curiosity.
Acidity, acidity, acidity. You can do miracles riding in warm climates with these excellent attributes. The fruit profile of Barbare Estate Cuvee 2012 is fresh and ripe cherries, dry raisins, and Christmas Puddings on the riper side, radiating focused, linear and direct, and there is so much balance! The palate is structured, textured, shining, and spicy; there is a fullness to the stomach. Full-bodied, extremely balanced as well. Xavier told us these grapes are from Turkey. This is my biggest surprise for the afternoon. 2012 fruit this fresh-no way. I will buy this wine for fun because this is a unique wine.
Back to traditionality. Drumming on a different beat, Gigonda 2019 is deep ruby with a medium rim. On the nose, dry flowers, dry fruit skin, Chan Pei, and elements of whiskies. Ingredients of fruit, such as prunes and raisins, are lurking behind. The palate is controlled with well-tamed alcohol and spices, leading to a dark chocolaty yet slightly plasticky finish. Composition is 95% Grenache and 5% Mourvedre, co-fermented.
Drinkable, here and now. Arcane l'Hermit 2016 is one of the most drinkable- the classic fruit profile, spices, liquorice, and exceptionally smooth and round finish. It is also one of the most age-worthy wines well made.
My fav. Deep purple with purple hues, this crafted CDP Anonyme 2017 is fresh with black fruits mixed with notes of spices and undergrowth. It is dense and perfumy, supple and bodied(ABV 15%); not much nuance to start without undue concentration, chalky and rippling finish. Made 5000 bottles, this 2017 vintage uses hand-picked grapes, traditional vinification, ageing in quarts of 25% in half-casks, 25% in casks, 25% in conical wooden vats, and 25% in concrete tanks. The blend is from Centurion Grenache, Vaccarèse, Counoise, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Terret Noir, Muscardin, Picpoul, and Clairette sourced from more than different parcels scattered among the appellation. How can Xavier do this so well, and the fruit is so vibrant? Why this tastes is so focused? So intriguing. I got this as a present from my supplier who is leaving the company. I confessed I belittled this bottle even though I heard quite some about the breadth and depth of the work by Xavier Vignon Southern Rhone Valley, including Raymond Usseglio, La Nerthe, Gardine, Mont Redon, Maucoil and others. I like the name Cuvee Anonyme( literally no representation), which I came across in my first Sociology class. I will buy and sell this wine.
Finale. Natural fruit, balanced, textured, fine tannins. Structured, intense, balanced, and good length. Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2000 is an enjoyable, harmonious piece of art.
Who says CDPs lack the Bordeaux and Burgundian tannic structure? Not with these wines I tasted in the afternoon.