In the glass, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape La Réserve X XII XV has a limpid, dark garnet color, almost black at the center, warming to dark mahogany at the edge. Blackberry preserves, white tobacco, candied citrus rind, and black licorice move in and out of the foreground, alternating with sandalwood, crushed violets, and fresh chanterelles as the nose evolves in the glass.
On the palate the wine is silky and opulent, with unexpected freshness, elegance, and purity. Sweet graphite-infused black fruit flavors, including griotte cherries, black currants, and dried figs echo the nose, with the low-pH Mourvèdre contributing refreshing vibrancy.
And for what it’s worth, according to Parker’s gushing 95+-point review, this “...the NV Châteauneuf du Pape X XII XV is a massive, thick, unctuous beauty that’s almost overflowing with notes of dark fruits, blackberries, truffle, chocolate and crushed rock. You almost need a fork to drink this baby, but man, what a wine! It stays lively and fresh, with building tannin, a stacked mid-palate and a big finish. It will take 5-7 years for the baby fat to fall away, and it will have two decades of longevity.”
About this wine producer: As the technical director and head enologist at “Laboratoire Avignon Oenologie Conseil,” Xavier Vignon is the consulting winemaker at more than 300 estates, including most of the best-known domaines in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In lieu of payment for his laboratory’s service, he sometimes accepts wine, which the micro-négociant company he established in 2002, “Xavier Vins,” uses to produce exceptional wines of the southern Rhône Valley. Originally a physical chemist, Xavier is particularly interested in how the spectrum of dissolved mineral salts in the groundwater of each vineyard, which varies from parcel to parcel, influences the expression of terroir in the grapes. “I’m a trained enologist,” he says. “I’ve examined wine down to the molecular level. Which, in the end, convinces me that what is most important are the vines, the depth of the roots, and the health and balance of the vineyard.”