Xavier Vignon is easily one of the top winemakers in Chateauneuf-du-Pape and arguably the takes the top spot (especially if the full list of wines he ‘consults’ on ever came to light). He’s certainly the Southern Rhone’s most innovative winemaker. The Wine Advocate’s Jeb Dunnuck described Xavier as “one of the leading oenologists in the Southern Rhone – and you only need to taste his own wines to understand why.”
Well, we have. If you’ve had Xavier’s 100% then you know how much bang for the buck the master can pack into an unassuming bottle. If you’ve been lucky enough to land a bottle or two of his high-flying, high-scoring Anonyme – then you know what he’s capable of producing in the Saturday night market.
But Xavier’s best wines are the ones that completely buck convention in their pursuit of perfection – one hundred year old French wine laws be damned. Xavier’s non-vintage blends, when he holds back some of his favorite barrels from each vintage to make something special like his ‘La Reserve’ which picked the most astonishing recent vintages in CDP and blended them all together into a single masterpiece that famously drew a 100pt review in barrel from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.
Today’s wine shows that the Southern Rhone’s preeminent winemaker will accept no bounds on his creativity – especially when it comes to attempting to craft perfection. The Arcane l’Etoile is a blend of three consecutive outstanding vintages (2015, 2016, 2017) from exceptional vineyards perched quite high in elevation (600 meters) on the edge of the Grand Montmirail.
Xavier’s l’Etoile is a traditional Chateauneuf-styled blend dominated by Grenache with 30% provided by Syrah and Mourvedre but with Xavier’s his signature dash of Viognier (ala Cote Rotie) that provides an extra lift and expression of character to an already super expressive wine.
95 Points, Jeb Dunnuck
Coming from the higher elevation sites, the NV Beaumes de Venise Arcane Etoile is another elegant, finesse-oriented wine from Xavier that has both richness and freshness. A blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre as well as a small amount of Viognier from 2015, 2016, and 2017, it has something profound in its texture and balance. Notes of black raspberries, currants, dried flowers, lavender, and pepper are followed by a beautiful, full-bodied, elegant wine that might just be one of the greatest red wines to come from Beaumes de Venise.