Yesterday I attended the Xavier tasting at the Marc. You may not have heard of Xavier Vignon, but it is highly likely that you have tasted wines that have benefitted from his expertise. He has worked all over the world with some of the best and least known wineries on the planet. He is based for the foreseeable future in the Rhone Valley in France and indeed has been appointed General Manager and CEO of IOC Rhone (Oenology Institute of Champagne) a laboratory and wine consulting agency which brings expertise to 250 estates in both the Southern and Northern Rhone. He is the head of the research group Minerality in Wine and President of the association Minerality in Wine founded in 2007. I could go on with his accolades but suffice it to say, he’s kind of a big deal.

Guests were greeted by gracious host Patrick Saurette with a glass of 2015 Cotes de Provence Rose. We were introduced to Xavier who is both personable and brilliant. He kindly posed for photographs as we waited for the tasting to begin.

During the event, Xavier spoke extensively about water and salt and their effects on developing fruit and consequently on the wine (which is after all mostly water). He told us too that his motto is “Making wine with friends for friends”. What could be better?

I wish I had written notes for the Cotes de Provence Rose because it was truly delightful. It was a pale salmon hue with a delicate fresh nose and a lush fruity minerality on the palate. Impossible not to love it. Look for it at your favorite store this summer.

We also tasted:

Xavier Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc 2013 – Perfect clear gold. Sea salt and fresh lemon peel lift notes of apricot and quince. Rich dense attack of creamy stone fruit lime peel and fresh pear. Both juicy and mineral at once. This blend includes Grenache Noir!+761520 $$

Xavier Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc Anonyme 2014 – Again, the perfect golden hue. Very earthy almost mushroom nose with lemon lime highlights and quince. (maybe the very faintest hint of cork taint?) Astringent wide mineral attack. Gorgeous mouth feel and wonderful open fruit supported by a lovely salinity. Not yet available.

Xavier Ventoux 2012 – Perfect mid ruby. Dark raisin nose with black licorice highlights. Lush plummy fruit attack. Juicy minerality that plays across thye palate on velvet tannins.+775546 $

Xavier 100% Rouge 2012 – This wine uses every varietal and every region in the Rhone!  Dark mid ruby hue. Dark plum fruit and a hint of old man sweater. Plush black plum and blackberry attack. Firm even tannin and a lovely saltiness. Very dense and upright but open and wide at the same time. Awesome.+764263 $$

Xavier Beaumes de Venise Rouge 2014 – Insanely beautiful perfect dark mid ruby hue. Jello like sheen. Lovely lavendar and black currant nose. A beautiful sea salt and violet aroma sneaks in and out. Luscious dark dense attack of earthy fruit and velvet tannins that cling to the teeth. Crazy and deep. Long evolving finish. Absolutely gorgeous. ❤ Not yet available

Xavier Vacqueyras 2011 – Velvet mid dark ruby hue. Savoury nose of black plummy fruit, blueberry/blackberry pie with currant and thyme notes. Salty velvet attack of balanced fruit and even, well integrated tannin. Nice astringency and a long, long finish. Wonderfully expressive and elegant. +761522 $$

Xavier Rasteau Rouge 2012 – Glistening mid-dark ruby. Lush black currant nose of popcorn, violets and sunshine. Just amazing layered nose. Dark elegant attack of lush black plum fruit, velvet scrapey tannin and a wonderful earthy minerality. Awesome with The Marc’s duck sausage! ❤

Xavier Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge 2011 – Velvet mid ruby hue. Salted watermelon on the nose with meaty black plum and fresh red berry notes. Silken attack of open fruit and rich minerality. It spreads wide across the palate dripping with a stinging acidity that really makes the whole mouth smile. Lovely and rich, wonderful and long +776004 $$

Xavier Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge Anonyme 2012 – Bright mid ruby garnet. Wonderful round vanillin, mysterious dark nose of black and red plum fruit with snap dragon and bees wax. Lush dark attack of black plum fruit and dense and precise tannin. The finish is both floral and savoury, intense and long long long. Not yet available.

Finally Xavier poured us a taste of his Gigondas 2012. It offered a blackberry and baby powder, black olive nose with lots of black currant and black dirt. Silken rich attack of lean dark fruit perfectly balanced fruit, minerality and acidity. A joy. Wonderfully smooth and surprisingly elegant. ❤ +761521 $$

All of these wines have received ratings from mister Robert Parker of between 89 and 96 points.

According to Xavier, it is the mineral salts extracted by the vines through water that makes Rhone wines so age-worthy. The ideal yield in this region is only one bottle per vine. So that’s what makes these wines so magical.

I hope that you will seek these wines out. It was so great to hear a real expert on the subject of mineral salt and water and the technicality of terroir speak about the scientific effects of all these things on the end product.

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