This white Côtes-du-Rhône comes from more than thirty parcels of ancient Grenache Blanc, along with somewhat younger Viognier and Roussanne, mostly scattered around the villages of Suzette and Le Barroux (where Xavier lives). Included are some of the highest vineyards in all of the Côtes-du-Rhône. In 2019, the vines yielded an average of under 20 hl/ha. In a good large Burgundy glass, the wine has a luminous, pale gold color (with flashes of green from the floral Viognier, and yellow from the Grenache Blanc). At first, the delicate nose is hard to pin down with explicit descriptors. At one moment, aromas of peach blossoms, fresh pineapple, and crystallized honey move in and out of the foreground. At the next, fleeting suggestions of lemon curd, papaya, fresh thyme, and salted caramel, emerge. On the palate, the wine is dry, savory and refreshing, with layered flavors that echo the nose, adding Seckel pears, dried ginger, white mint, and lime zest, all seasoned with palpable, intense Himalayan sea-salt minerality. “Smooth and creamy” is how James Suckling described it in his 91-point review. Drink now–2025.
About this wine producer: As the technical director and head enologist at “Laboratoire Avignon Oenologie Conseil,” Xavier Vignon is the consulting winemaker at more than 300 estates, including most of the best-known domaines in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In lieu of payment for his laboratory’s service, he sometimes accepts wine, which the micro-négociant company he established in 2002, “Xavier Vins,” uses to produce exceptional wines of the southern Rhône Valley. Originally a physical chemist, Xavier is particularly interested in how the spectrum of dissolved mineral salts in the groundwater of each vineyard, which varies from parcel to parcel, influences the expression of terroir in the grapes. “I’m a trained enologist,” he says. “I’ve examined wine down to the molecular level. Which, in the end, convinces me that what is most important are the vines, the depth of the roots, and the health and balance of the vineyard.”