2007 Xavier Vignon Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Anonyme
Expert Rating
RP 96 points
(Read the full review below)
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Robert Parker's 2007 Chateauneuf-du-Papes
Wine Score Price
Clos Saint-Jean "Sanctus Sanctorum" 100 $900
Domaine de la Janasse Cuvee Vieilles Vignes 100 $350
Domaine de Marcoux Vieilles Vignes 98 $250
Chateau Rayas 98 $625
Xavier Vignon “Anonyme” 96 $90
Chateau Beaucastel 96 $125
Domaine de la Solitude "la Reserve Secrete" 95+ $140
(RP's 96pt) 2012 WineAccess Wine of the Year

We were first introduced to super-enologist Xavier Vignon one evening late in 2008. That evening, we tasted a complete lineup of some of the most voluptuous, but also beautifully honed, southern Rhone reds of the monumental 2007 vintage. We've featured many of those wines on WineAccess over the last several years, but you've never seen this one. Why? Because it wasn't yet in bottle.

Shortly after our visit chez Vignon, Robert Parker came calling. In RP's exhaustive coverage of the 2007 harvest -- one that he'd call the "greatest vintage in 30 years in Chateauneuf-du-Pape" -- he shined a bright spotlight on Xavier's brilliant blends of ancient vine Grenache, Syrah, and most importantly, 100-year old Mourvedre. The rave reviews that would subsequently appear in The Wine Advocate sent Vignon's stock soaring.

Still, the most stupefying Xavier Vignon Chateauneuf-du-Pape of the last three years would be an ultra-rich, astonishingly structured ancient vine blend drawn from five varieties and three lieu dits. The story of the making of, and our early commitment to, the JUST RELEASED 2007 Chateauneuf-du-Pape "Anonyme" follows, one that nearly trumps the bottle that would earn 96 points from The Wine Advocate, standing tall against the likes of Beaucastel, La Janasse, Clos Saint-Jean and Marcoux.

Licorice Stems and RP's 96-Point 2007 "Anonyme"
As has been the case for the last decade, in late August 2007, Xavier Vignon was not only following his own vines, but those of dozens of the top estates of Chateauneuf-du-Pape for which he consults. The summer had been remarkably dry, but fairly mild. Sugars were high. If the last chapter of the growing season played out as expected, 2007 had the making of a vintage unlike anything the appellation had ever seen.

As the sugars climbed in the old vine Grenache and Syrah plantings, acids started to drop. It became clear to the enologist to the 100pt stars that the greatest wines of the vintage would likely feature healthy doses of low pH Mourvedre, providing aromatic fireworks and sufficient backbone to offset what seemed to be impossibly voluptuous concentration.

In late August, as he always does, Vignon began breaking stems off the vines and chewing them. The technique is old school, used to detect the physiological maturity of the plants.

"I was stunned," Xavier told us. "You taste all kinds of things when you chew on the stems, but never had I tasted licorice! The Grenache and Syrah would be incredibly rich. The Mourvedre would offer freshness, lift and age-worthiness, but this was a vintage where the careful addition of stems could pay huge dividends."

When Xavier Vignon finally brought in the five varieties from three ancient plots in different quadrants of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, he fully understood the magnitude of the vintage. The vinification would be long and cool. In the end, the whole cluster addition was even more aggressive than Vignon had first imagined. "There was so much richness and the stems were so brittle. There was really no risk whatsoever of greenness." Then Xavier barreled down the Syrah in barrique, the Grenache and Mourvedre in demi-muids. And he waited.

Eighteen months later, Vignon tasted us on multiple barrels of a wine Parker would eventually call "sensational." A year later he did the same. Then again in 2011. The greatest enologist of the southern Rhone was openly puzzled. Each component was extraordinarily concentrated, but also locked in suspended animation. After 4 years in barrel, oxygen remained the 2007 "Anonyme's" friend. Finally, this summer, just after both we and Robert Parker came calling, Xavier Vignon would bottle what may well be the most stunning Chateauneuf-du-Pape of Parker's "greatest vintage in 30 years!"

Deep ruby/purple in color, with magical aromas of red raspberry, sweet herbs, underbrush, Parker called it "unctuously textured and flamboyant," suggesting -- after four years in barrel!!! -- this one will hit its peak sometime in 2030. It's tough to argue the point.

Tasting Notes

2007 Xavier Vignon Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Anonyme
"Except for Henri Bonneau's 2007 Reserve des Celestins (which is still in barrel), the last 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape to be released will be Xavier Vignon's Anonyme. This sensational wine spent three years in a combination of demi-muids and small oak. It boasts an inky/purple color along with a sweet nose of underbrush, garrigue, licorice, blackberries and black currants. Full, thick, unctuously textured and even flamboyant, this stunning 2007 should drink well for another 15-20 years. "
96 points -- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

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