For a man who has been around in the Rhone for 20+ years Xavier Vignon isn’t a name that trips off the tongue of that many Rhone lovers. Surprising perhaps as to those in the know Xavier has been consultant oenologue to possibly more estates than the very well-known consultant Philippe Cambie – he reputedly looks after some 100+ estates including some of the largest and the most celebrated: Mont Redon, Raymond Usseglio, Grand Veneur, Marcoux. His CV also includes stints as a master blender in Champagne (significant given his current metier) as well as Bordeaux, California, Austraila and NZ. For the past decade or so he has been gradually building up alongside his consultancy a formidable negotiant business under the Xavier wine label (very stylish it is too). This is a range made up of grapes/juice from producers that Xavier knows and likes, and is often advising regarding viticulture – his skill has been to blend wines across a range of appellations -Cotes de Rhone to top end Chateauneuf (via Gigondas, Rasteau) – to a house style characterised by full fruit flavours and big structured concentration. A real point of difference with other Negoces in the area is that the range is often sourced from not only different areas, producers and terroirs but different vintages – it’s the ultimate in the blenders art – the Réserve CNP, for example, is currently a blend of three great vintages, 2007/209/2010. Like the best Negoce ranges quality sings through at both ends -the Cotes du Rhone “100% Pure” cuvée , a terrifically intense blend of six varieties: GSM plus Carignan, Marselan, Cinsault, whilst the haut de gamme “Anonyme” (sensational value for this quality level) has attracted the admiration of the critics scooping a 95 from Robert Parker for the 2010 vintage.Pricing is great value across the range.
The Anonyme is available for less than 45 bucks at JJBuckley of California and the British specialist in great reds the Big Red Wine Company for around £32. Watch this space for another blog posting on Xavier’s stylish new reception/tasting facility he is creating in a magnificent setting in my favourite place of all time – The Dentelles. Very exciting for our Rhone Wine Tour guests!