Wine of the Month
Featured Wine: Xavier Vignon Cuvée Viellies Vignes
Appelation d’Orgine Protegee’
Grape Variety: 50% Grenache, 40% Mourvèdre, 10% Syrah & Consult
Region: Cotes Du Rhone
Vinification: Grenache, Syrah/Cinsault and Mourvèdre ferment together for four weeks in stainless steel. No extraction during fermentation, only diffusion and passive exchange.
Aging: Aged in concrete.
Color: Deep Dark Purple
Price: Under $20
A long time ago, I read an article that exposed the horrors of Big Business Wine Making in the United States. What I deemed most disturbing was how many wine makers use chemicals to enhance color and flavor. Unfortunately, the laws regarding these chemicals are lax in the USA and winemakers are not obligated to inform the consumer; for example, your densely hued Merlot may be colored so lovely via MegaPurple. Some of the chemicals they add require the staff to wear hazmat suits! Disgusting. On the bright side, after reading that article, I did begin to branch out more when it came to wine and rather immediately fell in love with the affordable and delicious wines of Cotes Du Rhone. Alas, over the past few years, I have been repeatedly disappointed by a large variety of Cotes du Rhone wines. For this reason, as you can imagine, I was thrilled when I discovered Xavier Vignon Cuvee Vielles Vignes, a wine that is so delicious, it awakened my long-lost love/lust for Cotes Du Rhone wines.
Winemaker Xavier Vignon is an oenophile in the truest sense; his dual degrees in Oenology and Agronomy led to a long career as a Consulting Oenologist. Lucky for us he decided to put his skill to practice in 1999 when he began creating his Rhone blends (in his garage) and now, (no longer in his garage), he is creating gorgeous wines we have the opportunity to enjoy.
With all of the consideration Vignon takes to create this beautiful beast, it makes sense that it is such a treat to drink; so well rounded, elegant and luxurious. We should all celebrate his journey and what it means for us. Vignon allots much consideration into all aspects of winemaking; using his creativity and vision as well as his strong scientific background. Vignon diligently uses only the highest quality grapes and decisively analyzes the soil where the grapes are grown; which in return gives us those flavors we love in wine all naturally and allows for minimum oenological intervention. No MegaPurple in this wine!
To best enjoy this wine, serving temperature is recommended at 59 degrees Fahrenheit, and I agree. But if you don’t have the time or the means to give it this bit of chill, fear not, you will still be satisfied.
Allow the wine to breathe for a short period just to release the remnants of musty earth. Pour this wine into a wide rimmed glass and let the aroma of ripe red fruits, smokey tobacco, dried wild flowers and herbal notes dance around you. Just the nose alone feels satisfying.
When you take your first sip, go slow, let the wine spread and you will be hit with savory smokiness, a touch of plum, ripe red cherries, red currant, and hints of floral and herbal notes. The tannins start out subtle in this full-bodied wine, but give them time; you will recognize their presence. The finish is long and enticing, the fruitiness of the Cinsault lingering. Very low acidity as well as the velvety texture and fruit finish makes this a suitable wine sans food, but as always, I’m hungry and I do enjoy pairing ever so much.
My first pairing was with a marinated and grilled sirloin steak along with red rice, black beans and guacamole. It was nice, but I made the mistake of over seasoning my marinade; if you do decide to make a marinade, it should be subtle, as it may inadvertently overwhelm the gorgeous flavors of the wine.
For my second pairing I had two ideas, couldn’t decide between them, and instead made both; I am glad I did. This pairing involved a butter and cherry tomato sauce tossed in angel hair pasta, topped off with a sprinkling of basil and Ricotta Salata, accompanied by a perfectly rare pan-fried filet mignon, simply seasoned with Kosher salt. It was divine, almost as if the filet was being embraced by the wine notes. The gentle tomato sauce opened up the wine even more, singling out the individual notes, grabbing them and dancing with them; an exquisite experience. Pairing wine and food are, to me, like dating, when the two meet and meld so perfectly, it truly is a love story; your very own delicious love story.
Spring is so close and I don’t know about you, but being outside feels so good to me. Why not plan an intimate picnic in your backyard? Soft music in the background, maybe Norah Jones, Stevie Wonder, or some De La Soul (RIP Trugoy the Dove). Your décor and food should be simple but thoughtful, French baguettes, salted French butter, a bowl of pasta on the table in a mild but flavorful sauce, a simple arugula salad with a gentle lemon and olive oil dressing, then fire up the grill and lay out platters of sliced beef tenderloin, NY strip and/or rib eye (remember to go easy on the seasoning) then allow Xavier Vignon Cuvee Vielles Vignes to take everything to the next level.
Honestly with all Vignon’s experience, knowledge and accolades, it is wonderful that he so considerately created a wine for the masses. This has to be one of the best wines I’ve had out of Cotes Du Rhone for under $20 in a very long time.
A Votre Sante!