One of the most famous French Wines in the World is from the area in the Southern Rhone Valley in France is called Chateauneuf Du Pape (The New Home Of The Popes). There are 13 grape varietals permitted to use in this area. For the Reds the most popular or widely used are Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre and sometimes a little Cinsault. The bad news is these wines start at $32.00- $100 and everywhere in between. Unless most of us hit the Lottery, this is a great special occasion wine but not an everyday hamburger wine or a wine to have a glass of by itself. But wait…there’s more……
Southern Rhone Map
You can see the Old Chateau (Home Of The Popes) which was Avignon and then other appellations of the Southern Rhone Valley like the NEW HOME of the Popes Chataeuneuf Du Pape spoken about above and then just on the western side of the Rhone River is the brown area called Cotes Du Rhone. Most of the time, these are great fun wines using mostly Grenache and Syrah but a little wimpy yet affordable. But Wait there’s More……
Meet Xavier Vignon
In the late 80’s. Xavier Vignon finished his education as an oenologist from the University in Montpellier – Diplôme National d’œnologue (DNO).
During the first decade after his education he worked at different places around the world: Chateau Corbin-Michotte in Saint-Emilion, Chez Wolfberger in Alsace, producers in Napa Valley and Pic Saint-Loup, Moët & Chandon in Eperny, Cloudy Bay in New Zealand and Domaine Chandon in Australia.
So he was quite an experienced Oenologist, when he settled down in Rhone in the late 90’s and got a job at Avignon Oenologie Conseil. He worked with this laboratory, then it was sold and then he consulted and now…But Wait, there’s more…..
2015 Xavier Vignon
Cotes Du Rhone
Now he uses grapes from different negociants and not his own estate bottled fruit. He wants all of this wines from his Chateauneuf Du Papes to this Cotes Du Rhone to not just highlight one producer from one vineyard but to highlight the Terroir and Vintage of The Appellation and his advising to produce some of the best of the best from each vintage. This wine is the usual Cotes Du Rhone Blend of Grenache Syrah And Mourvedre (GSM) but in no way as soon as I opened it was this the usual Cotes Du Rhone. But wait, there’s more……
The color was a deep dark ruby with very slight variation on the edge from 3 years old to a lighter dark purple. Aromas of Clay, Scorched Earth, Juniper (Yes Like Gin) with the secondary Old World Fruits of Blackberry or Cassis, Black Raspberry, Black Plums and hints of Lavender as you pull your nose slightly away from the glass. On the palate , we are all adults here, this wine has BALLS. It hits the mid palate like a scud missile , with a big explosion of Black Raspberry, hot stones, lush plum, cracked black pepper and some grippy tannins on a long finish. Very well balanced. If it was aged 3-5 more years this could have easily fooled me into thinking on blind tasting this was a Chateauneuf in the $40 price range but in reality it is a powerhouse of a Cotes Du Rhone right in my Poor Man’s Budget of $14.00. I am so impressed with this one I am going 94 out of 100 points considering I haven’t been very impressed with the 2015 Cotes Du Rhone I have tasted from other producers,
If you are one of those people who loves Chateauneuf Du Pape but knowing it mainly is Grenache you go to Spain for $10 Garnachas or Sardinia for Cannoneau (Grenache) because you like me and others can’t swing $40 for Everyday wine, look no further than this 2015 Xavier Vignon Cotes Du Rhone. Lamb Chops, Sausage, Carne Asada, Filet, Aged Cheeses, Watching Dancing With The Stars, this wine is a winner and either a Rich Man’s Cotes Du Rhones or a Poor Man’s Chateauneuf Du Pape.
Grape-fully yours, Larry