2009 Xavier Vignon Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Anonyme
Expert Rating
RP 96 points
(Read the full review below)
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Robert Parker’s 2009 Chateauneuf Honor Roll
Wine Retail Price Score
Chateau Beaucastel Hommage $500 99
Chateau Rayas $175 98
Domaine la Barroche Pure $250 96
Xavier Anonyme $75 96
Chateau de la Nerthe Cadettes $100 94
Chateau Beaucastel $120 94
Domaine Marcoux Villes Vignes $190 94
Nature's Winter Foibles (and the last 403 bottles of Parker's Under-$40 96-pointer)

It's been a rough winter. The vast majority of you have been understanding. Some, not so much. So before we offer the last 33 cases and 7 bottles of Robert Parker's only 96-point UNDER-$40 Chateauneuf in years, we want to set the record straight.

Our daily stories often feature lengthy explanations of growing season drama, of flash storms and blistering heat, how inventive wine-growers deal with Nature's caprice, thus explaining why a wine tastes as it does. But, we spend little time speaking of our own climatic challenges, and how frigid winter temperatures wreak havoc with WineAccess logistics.

Particularly during winter and summer months, WineAccess coordinates shipments all over the country via temperature controlled trucks, sent directly from our west coast warehouse to your local hub. While there's never a risk on that leg of the journey, depending upon the temperature, the last leg can be treacherous, as the carrier's local delivery trucks, of course, are not temperature-controlled. Last winter, we were fortunate. But over the last months, we've had no such luck.

As a result, our logistics team -- charged with protecting the provenance of each WineAccess bottle -- was obliged to schedule, and sometimes reschedule, shipments in both the Midwest and Northeast. While Member Services did its best to manage expectations, even Kate and Whitney couldn't appease everyone.

As a result, many orders were canceled. All payments, of course, were promptly refunded by participating wineries and importers -- per our agreement with them. It was bad news all around. At least until today, when some of you will make off with the wines that were left behind. In this case, that wine would be one of Robert Parker's top-rated Chateauneufs from the sensational 2009 vintage -- and arguably the greatest under-$40 bargain in WineAccess history.

Before we continue, just one thing -- a favor to Whitney and Kate. All orders will begin shipping on the week of April 15th -- to every eligible state in the country. At least for this winter, we've had enough of Nature's foibles.

Two More than Beaucastel
The summer of 2009 was torrid in the southern Rhone. As we reported some months ago -- as is always the case in drought years -- the oldest vines with the deepest root structures shrugged off the summer heat, eking out a tiny crop of tremendously concentrated berries.

But just as was the case in 2007, the Grenache and Syrah, while voluptuous, flirted with overripeness. Acids were weak, pH sky high. The greatest wines of the vintage, then, would be generously doused with ancient-vine Mourvedre -- and Counoise -- later ripening varieties, infused with ethereal aromatic complexity and fine acid cut. In Robert Parker's exhaustive coverage of the vintage, top scores would be handed out to three cuvees, each containing 30% or more of old-vine Mourvedre. Two would come from famed Chateau de Beaucastel. The other from the brilliant enologist, Xavier Vignon.

The 2009 Xavier Chateauneuf-du-Pape "Anonyme" is an assemblage of equal parts of 70- to 100-year-old-vine Grenache, Mourvedre, Counoise, plumped up with a striking purple-fruit core of juicy Syrah. Parker went gaga, describing "copious notes of licorice, garrigue, underbrush, blackberries, black currants and graphite are present in this full-bodied, modern-styled, fragrant, distinctive Chateauneuf," before piling on with that 96pt score -- two more than Beaucastel.

Sorry again to those who we've disappointed. If you have any suggestions for how to mitigate disappointment next winter, please give us a holler. We're all ears!

Tasting Notes

2009 Xavier Vignon Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Anonyme
"There are approximately 10,000 bottles of the sensational 2009 Chateauneuf 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 Chateauneuf. This terrific, voluptuous 2009 should drink well young and last for 15-20 years."
96 points -- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

By law, wine may ONLY be shipped to the following states: AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, KS, LA, ME, MI, MN, MO, NC, NE, NH, NM, NV, OH, OR, PA, SC, TN, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY.