2009 Xavier Vignon Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Anonyme
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RP 96 points
(Read the full review below)
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Robert Parker: 2009 Châteauneuf-du-Papes
Wine Retail Price Score
Château de Beaucastel "Hommage de Jacques Perrin" $475 99
Château Rayas $175 98
Domaine du Pegau "Laurence" $125 98
Domaine de la Vieille Julienne Reserve $250 97
Xavier Vignon "Anonyme" $90 96
Domaine la Barroche "Pure" $125 96
Clos des Papes $125 95
Pierre Usseglio Réserve des 2 Frères $110 94
Robert Parker and the 96-Point Handshake (Top-Rated Wine in WineAccess History!)

In October 2011, Robert Parker prematurely blew the lid off a story we'd been working on for the better part of four months. On July 8th, we were treated to our first meal chez Xavier Vignon, the brilliant enologist whose hands had been all over a dozen Wine Advocate 100-point Châteauneuf-du-Papes. As Isabelle Vignon ladled sumptuous brown sauce over basmati rice and blanquette de veau, Vignon uncorked a bottle of the 2009 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Anonyme. Our understanding of the great red blends of the southern Rhône would never be the same.

Vignon, we'd soon learn, is never at a loss for words. Over the course of the next three hours, Xavier bobbed and weaved, treating us to a discourse that touched on the negative impact of organic farming on the soils of Châteauneuf (incessant copper treatments were fast altering the mineral-salt makeup of each terroir), why irrigation so often denudes wines of a sense of place, and how the combination of global warming and leaf-pulling was pushing the pH levels of Grenache and Syrah over 4.0!

But even the enologist's unbridled passion for the producers and terroir of Châteauneuf-du-Pape took a back seat to the wine we were swirling in Zalto Universal stemware (Vignon's preferred crystal). The just-bottled 2009 "Anonyme" was astonishing that evening, an explosive blend of equal parts of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Counoise/Vaccarèse. Unlike many wines of the vintage drawn from clusters that had been blistered by the torrid summer sun, Xavier's tête-de-cuvée was both lavishly concentrated and marvelously light on its feet — its primary black-fruit modernity buttressed by dusty tannins and piercing acidity. Delicious out of the gate, given its unusually low pH (just 3.6), the enologist to Châteauneuf's 100-pointers suggested that his 2009 "Anonyme" could well outlive its maker!

We made a handshake agreement over the crème brûlée, committing to half of Vignon's production. But just a few months later, in early fall, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate made us understand just how important it is to make such agreements in writing!

Just hours after The Wine Advocate's Issue #197 hit the web, Xavier received the first of 23 calls, this one from an importer in Scandinavia. When he got back to his office outside of Courthézon and logged on to Gmail, he saw that his inbox was uncommonly full — though he didn't recognize a single email address. Then he clicked on to erobertparker.com and discovered what all the fuss was about.

In one of the most lavish reviews ever bestowed upon a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the most influential critic in the history of the southern Rhône let loose, writing of OUR 2009 "Anonyme": "Copious notes of licorice, garrigue, underbrush, blackberries, black currants and graphite are present in this full-bodied, modern-styled, fragrant, distinctive Châteauneuf. This terrific, voluptuous 2009 should drink well young and last for 15-20 years."

Tasting Notes

2009 Xavier Vignon Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Anonyme
"There are approximately 10,000 bottles of the sensational 2009 Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvee Anonyme, which is fashioned from an unusual blend of 25% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre, 25% Syrah and the remaining 25% Counoise, Vaccarese and other authorized varietals. Its opaque purple color is followed by a wine of extraordinary intensity. Copious notes of licorice, garrigue, underbrush, blackberries, black currants, and graphite are present in this full-bodied, modern-styled, fragrant, distinctive Châteauneuf. This terrific, voluptuous 2009 should drink well young and last for 15-20 years."
96 points -- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

"Three years after bottling, the ultra-rich 2009 "Anonyme" is perfectly primary — still a baby in a cradle. Saturated purple to the rim, infused with intoxicating aromas of crushed blackberry, black raspberry, licorice and sweet herbes de Provence. Terrifically concentrated yet still light on its feet, walking the tightrope between New World modernity and Old World mineral complexity. While this ancient-vine blend is drinking beautifully right now, The Wine Advocate suggests that it won't hit full stride until sometime in the early 2030s! In our estimation, Parker's prediction is spot on."
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