Rhône discovery (5) Xavier Vignon, Ventoux

Xavier Vignon arrived in the southern Rhône in 1996 as a winemaker and consultant and fell in love with the area. He wasn’t supposed to stay – he had a job in Australia waiting – but he started making some wine for other people. He made small selections of 50 different caves, beginning a negociant business. Then seven years ago he started acquiring vineyards. So now he’s a consultant, a negociant, and a grower. The domaine is specifically in Ventoux, but the negoce is more broad, taking in other Rhône crus.

’25 years ago it was difficult to ripen in Ventoux,’ says Xavier. ‘Harvest used to start in late September in the early 1980s, finishing in November. Now it starts 5-10 September and finishes 5-15 October, a difference of 2-3 weeks.’ He says people are picking three weeks earlier than 25 years ago with 1.7% more alcohol.

I tasted these wines with Xavier at the excellent Vin Ensèn wine bar in Caromb, in the heart of Ventoux.


Xavier Vignon Xtra Blanc de Noir NV Vin de France
Xavier learned a lot in Champagne about making base wines, and this is something he has been experimenting with since 2010. This is a blend of three different vintages: 2016, 2017, 2018. It’s direct pressed Mourvèdre and Grenache. 12.2% alcohol, pH 3.28. Some savouriness on the nose with a touch of cedar and spice. The palate is fresh, nutty and salty with some grainy structure. Nice energy here. 92/100

Xavier Natura in Fine Le Vin Nature Ventoux Rouge 2023
14.5% alcohol. No added sulfites. The fermentation is made under pressure, and it stops at about 2 bars with 10-15 g/l of sugar. The wine is cooled to 8 C and a clarification is made. Then the wine is re-inoculated with the new wine still fermenting so that it finishes fast. This is to avoid the risky period at the end of fermentation. Supple, fresh, vivid and pure with a salty edge to the juicy, tart raspberry and cherry fruit. Vivid and joyful with nice precision. 93/100

Xavier Vignon As de Deniers NV Vin de France
This is 90% Grenache, 5% Mourvèdre and 5% Syrah, with 60% from 2020, 10% from 2021 and 30% from 2019. 10% whole bunch, aged in concrete and some wine globes (glass containers). 15.3% alcohol. Fine, fresh and textural with lovely brightness, showing some peppery notes as well as nice density. Structured and intense with with precision and a nice saline twist on the finish. 95/100

Xavier Vignon Lirac 2019
15% alcohol. Ripe, lush and sweetly fruited with some herbal notes as well as ripe strawberry and red cherry fruit. Has some autumnal undergrowth savouriness in the background and finishes slightly salty. Lush and sweet, and quite appealing. Good structure. 92/100