Xavier’s Arcane IX 2016 comes from more than 25 parcels of old vines located on terraces in Gigondas lying just below the Dentelles de Montmirail. The grapes were hand-harvested, completely destemmed, and co-fermented in concrete tanks. After the completion of the malolactic fermentation, most of the wine was matured in cuves tronconiques of French oak, with some in barrels submerged in tanks for more than a year. In the glass, the wine has a saturated dark purple color, with flashes of garnet just at the edge. Aromas of griotte cherries, prune plums, licorice root, and cloves, along with a cornucopia of herbes de Provence and spices move in and out of the foreground as the nose evolves in the glass. On the palate the wine is powerful, supple, and opulent – packed with a solid core of crushed red and black fruit flavors that unfurl like a peacock’s tail, and linger in a long, round, velvety finish. This is a gorgeous example from one of the greatest Rhône vintages in memory. Drink now for its pure, hedonistic, primary fruit, or keep in a cool cellar for a decade or more.
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.”