Discovering Rhône with Xavier Vignon: A Deep Dive into Ventoux

By | 14 April 2024

Xavier Vignon, a winemaker and consultant, arrived in the southern Rhône region in 1996 and fell deeply in love with the area. After canceling his planned move to Australia, Xavier began to produce wines for others. In the process, he assessed 50 different caves and initiated a negociant business. Seven years ago, his focus shifted to the acquisition of vineyards. Today, Xavier is a consultant, a negociant, and a grower. While his domaine is located in Ventoux, his negociant business extends to other Rhône crus.

According to Xavier, “25 years ago, it was a challenge to ripen in Ventoux. Harvesting could start as late as September and conclude in November. Fast forward to now, harvesting commences between the 5th and 10th of September and ends between the 5th and 15th of October – 2 to 3 weeks earlier.” He notes that compared to 25 years ago, people are harvesting three weeks sooner with an additional 1.7% alcohol.

Xavier and I had the opportunity to sample these wines at the exquisite Vin Ensèn wine bar in Caromb, situated in the heart of Ventoux.

Xavier Vignon Xtra Blanc de Noir NV Vin de France

Xavier’s extensive knowledge of making base wines was gained during his time in Champagne. Since 2010, he has been experimenting with this approach. The Xtra Blanc de Noir is a fusion of three different vintage years: 2016, 2017, 2018. It is a direct-pressed blend of Mourvèdre and Grenache. The alcohol volume stands at 12.2%, with a pH of 3.28. The nose reveals a blend of savouriness with hints of cedar and spice. On the palate, it offers a fresh sensation with nutty and salty flavours accompanied by a grainy structure. This wine has a beautiful energy to it. Score: 92/100.

Xavier Natura in Fine Le Vin Nature Ventoux Rouge 2023
14.5% alcohol. No added sulfites. The fermentation is made under pressure, and it stops at about 2 bars with 10-15 g/l of sugar. The wine is cooled to 8 C and a clarification is made. Then the wine is re-inoculated with the new wine still fermenting so that it finishes fast. This is to avoid the risky period at the end of fermentation. Supple, fresh, vivid and pure with a salty edge to the juicy, tart raspberry and cherry fruit. Vivid and joyful with nice precision. 93/100

Xavier Vignon As de Deniers NV Vin de France
This is 90% Grenache, 5% Mourvèdre and 5% Syrah, with 60% from 2020, 10% from 2021 and 30% from 2019. 10% whole bunch, aged in concrete and some wine globes (glass containers). 15.3% alcohol. Fine, fresh and textural with lovely brightness, showing some peppery notes as well as nice density. Structured and intense with with precision and a nice saline twist on the finish. 95/100

Xavier Vignon Lirac 2019
15% alcohol. Ripe, lush and sweetly fruited with some herbal notes as well as ripe strawberry and red cherry fruit. Has some autumnal undergrowth savouriness in the background and finishes slightly salty. Lush and sweet, and quite appealing. Good structure. 92/100

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