Jamie Drummond and Xavier Vignon

Journalist Jamie Drummond and Winemaker Xavier Vignon, Toronto, March 2016.

Xavier 100pc CdR bottle shot Elsewhere at GFR, Jamie has an interview with Southern Rhône winemaker and consultant Xavier Vignon (here). The interview was filmed before a dinner hosted by Vignon’s Ontario importer Noble Estates (a Good Food Fighter, full disclosure) at La Societé in Yorkville. It was quite a dinner featuring wines from Vignon’s own label Xavier Vins d’Experts, drawing from Châteauneuf-du-Pape and around Provence, including a fantastic non-vintage red wine blended from various years. They were all delicious, as one would expect from a winemaker whose “real job” is as a top consultant to the top wineries in the region. Vignon is a master blender with access to (albeit small quantities of) grape juice for his own label from some very famous houses (his top label is named for the French word for anonymous, as he won’t divulge his sources of juice). Some of that talent and privilege is available currently for everyday wine drinking with the release of his Xavier 100% Côtes du Rhône 2012. At $17 a bottle, it’s an affordable way to taste a master’s work.

The wine is a big 14.5% abv red wine from the South of France, but you wouldn’t know it. It’s perfectly balanced. What’s big about this wine isn’t the alcohol, but the Grenache-driven candied cherry fruit backed up by the spice and smoke of Syrah and the structure of Mourvèrdre (plus whatever else may be in the blend). Jamie’s interview with Vignon is in part about the quality of minerality in wine, and the 100% has a line of salinity in it that’s at first hidden under a velvet curtain of polite tannins. It’s tasty stuff that’s not likely to stay on the shelves for long.

Click here to find an LCBO Vintages store that stocks it.

Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the company that publishes it. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.