2007 Xavier Vignon Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Anonyme
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RP 96 points
(Read the full review below)
 
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Member Reviews:

*****
This is a dark, unctuous, nearly sweet wine that tastes of underbrush (fresh mulch?), licorice, blackberries, black currants, and other dark fruits. The wine is so well-balanced, one cannot tell that the alcohol level is15% . Moreover, unlike most 2007 CdP wines, it is not excessively fruit forward. I can see this wine improving over the next 5-15 years. It is the single best buy in 2007 Rhone wines.
-- George from Falls Church, VA

***** Great CDP
I brought this up from the cellar at about 55 degrees, opened and poured, so it was a little cold and took some time to open. Once it did, I think the Parker review is right on. The wine is just wonderful; rich, full, lush, elegant and with excellent acidity. I don't see how a CDP can be a lot better than this.
-- Ron from Rolla, MO

***** For once the French got it right!
Absolutely fabulous wine. It's going to be hard to let this one age as it tastes so smooth right now.
-- Susan from Bangor, ME

***** Ready already
Took a chance and opened one early (Feb 13) and was surprised to find it already near peak (or near enough to peak for my unprofessional tasting standards). Magnificent.
-- Gary from Arlington, VA

***** Good, but I actually liked his regular CDP better
I found this perhaps too modern in style, with the oak now overpowering the fruit a bit. It's hard to imagine this improving with more time, given the softness of the fruit. I wish I had been able to drink this 3 years ago.
-- Scott from Newbury Park, CA


The Incredible Story of Xavier Vignon's 96-point Cuvée Anonyme

We were first introduced to super-enologist Xavier Vignon in late 2008. Dinner began with Champagne, toasted pain de campagne, olive oil and fresh truffles. By the time we'd mopped up the last of the blanquette de veau, we'd been treated to a sumptuous lineup of some of the most voluptuous, carefully honed southern Rhône reds of the 2007 vintage.

Just two months after our dinner chez Vignon, Robert Parker came calling. In his exhaustive coverage of the 2007 harvest in which Parker called the vintage the "greatest in 30 years," The Wine Advocate dropped a bevy of rave reviews on Xavier's luscious blends of floral Grenache, plump Syrah, and ethereal 100-year-old Mourvèdre. Vignon was off to the races.

But as we'd learn two years later, the most stupefying 2007 from Xavier Vignon had yet to be assembled in 2008. It wouldn't be until 2010 that Xavier even began to talk about the 2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Anonyme. The story he told would prove to be the most surprising tale of the vintage.

In late August 2007, Xavier was trekking the rows of his clients' vines. The summer had been fairly dry and mild. Sugars were already miraculously high in early September, and the 10-day forecast spoke only of more sunny skies. If the last chapter before harvest played out as Vignon expected, 2007 had the making of a vintage unlike anything the appellation had ever known.

But even as most in Châteauneuf spoke of the harvest of their lifetimes, Vignon worried. If sugars continued to spike, particularly for old-vine Grenache and Syrah, pH would rise and acids would fade. As September rolled in, the enologist to the 100-point stars made the call that would prove so prescient. The secret to 2007, Vignon reasoned, would be in high-acid, old-vine Mourvèdre. Vignon spent the next few weeks locking into every drop of 100-year-old Mourvèdre he could find.

In the first days of September, while walking the vines, Vignon began breaking off stems and chewing them. This old-school technique is often used to detect the physiological maturity of the plants. "You taste many things when you chew on the stems. Mostly, you're tasting for under-ripeness. If the stems are green and sappy, the plant isn't ready. But in September 2007, I tasted something I'd never tasted before. The Mourvèdre stems tasted like licorice. Pure licorice!"

Xavier Vignon brought in five varieties from three ancient vineyards, each set in a distinct quadrant of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Thirty percent would be 100+-year-old-vine Mourvèdre. Then he began a long, cool vinification. The juice was incredibly concentrated, yet still soft and supple. Vignon swung for the fences. "There was so much richness. But even more importantly, the stems weren't in the least bit sappy. They were brittle, so there was no risk of imparting green flavors. For the first time in a decade, I took a chance and fermented with whole clusters. I saw no reason not to do so."

In 2011, Vignon had us taste multiple barrels of what would become the components of the 2007 Cuvée Anonyme. In early 2012, we barrel-tasted again. The wines hadn't moved. After 48 months in barrel — almost unheard of in the region — the 2007 Cuvée Anonyme continued to fend off oxygen. Finally in the summer of 2012 , shortly after we and Robert Parker again passed by, Xavier Vignon would bottle the most surprising Châteauneuf-du-Pape of Parker's "greatest vintage in 30 years."

Deep ruby/purple in color with magical aromas of red raspberry, sweet herbs, underbrush, the 2007 Anonyme was called "full, thick, unctuously textured and even flamboyant" by Parker, who added, "This stunning 2007 should drink well for another 15-20 years." Then he lobbed on 96 points just for good measure.


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 Châteauneuf 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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