2010 Xavier Vignon Cotes du Rhone
Expert Rating
RP 90 points
(Read the full review below)
 
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Xavier Vignon Thunder at L'Oustalet

For as long as they last, carefully selected 2010 Cotes du Rhones continue to represent the greatest floral, red wine bargains on the market. First, it was Robert Parker who sang 2010's praises, suggesting that the harvest ranked side by side with 2007 as the greatest since 1978. Then, it was James Molesworth, from Wine Spectator who piled on a 98-point vintage rating -- the highest in decades.

Over dinner in Gigondas in June with Xavier Vignon, the consulting enologist explained why these 2010s so differ from the 2007s. "The 2007 vintage was extreme," Xavier said. "In the lab, when we first analyzed sugars and acidity, we found potential alcohols of over 16%, coupled with very high pH. Consumers loved the wines, but I believe most should be consumed early -- within ten years. As to 2010, that's another story altogether."

Plenty of rain fell during the winter months. The spring continued chilly and wet, causing many clusters to shatter, or what Vignon called "coulure." The shatter would cripple yields early on, trimming the harvest by nearly 35% off the highs of 2007. But with the bad news came the good. Those ample water reserves came in handy, paying handsome dividends over the hot, dry summer months.

"In 2007, we had blistering and desiccation. In many instances, the berries shriveled, accounting for port-like flavors and concentration. In 2010, the alcohol levels were often high -- sometimes even higher than in 2007 -- but the tannins were ripe and present, and the wines were fresh. The cooler growing season made for better acidity. The absence of hydric stress mitigated desiccation."

Xavier brought two of his 2010s to dinner at L'Oustalet. Each of us ordered the lamb shoulder en croute with the pistou sauce. Both wines were cut of similar cloth. While Robert Parker's 95+ point 2010 "Anonyme" stole the evening thunder (quite literally, when the sky opened up over the Dentelles de Montmirail!), Vignon's not-so-simple 2010 Cotes du Rhone more than held its own.

Drawn almost entirely from 80+ year-old head-trained Grenache vines, the color is deep ruby/purple, with sumptuous aromas of black raspberry, black cherry, violets and sweet spice. The attack is rich, broad and plush. Packed with ripe strawberry and raspberries, unusually powerful and fleshy for a 'simple' Cotes du Rhone.

Tasting Notes

2010 Xavier Vignon Cotes du Rhone
"The 2010 Cotes du Rhone includes slightly more Grenache in the blend. Abundant aromas of strawberry and black cherry fruit are intermixed with garrigue, licorice, olive and new saddle leather characteristics. This spicy, exuberantly fruity 2010 can be enjoyed over the next 1-2 years."
90 points -- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

"Drawn almost entirely from 80+ year old head-trained Grenache vines, the color is deep ruby/purple, with sumptuous aromas of black raspberry, black cherry, violets and sweet spice. The attack is rich, broad and plush. Packed with ripe strawberry and raspberries, unusually powerful and fleshy for a 'simple' Cotes du Rhone, particularly out of oversized Riedel, this one ranks among the most exciting under-$15 bargains we've tasted from this unforgettable vintage."
-- WineAccess Travel Log

 

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