- Blend70% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre
- WinemakerXavier Vignon
- RegionRhone Valley
- AppellationBeaumes de Venise
- Farming MethodCertified Sustainable
Xavier Vins Arcane L'Etoile Rouge NV
Xavier Vignon is a Rhone legend...both for his winemaking prowess and his willingness to break all the rules in a region bound to its traditions. But when you make an absolutely stunning wine like this – 95 points, friends – at a price like we have today...rules be damned!
You’ve never had a wine like this. Beaumes de Venise is a lesser-known Rhone commune, historically suited for making fortified sweet red wines for over two thousand years. More recently, a still red production has been quickly growing, especially where Xavier’s fruit is grown, with stellar results! A few months back, Xavier took us on a heart-racing 4x4 ride to see his vineyards. These high-elevation plots sit in the shadow of the region’s famous Dentelles de Montmirail, a jagged limestone mountain chain that sticks out of the landscape (and also provides some of the best rock climbing in the world). Xavier’s vines border the very edge of two of the Southern Rhone’s more established regions, Gigondas and Vacqueyras, and at one point, Xavier was able to stop and show us the exact triangle where all three regions meet (rather unceremoniously marked by a pile of painted rocks).
While extremely close geographically, Beaumes de Venise is nevertheless somewhat cooler than either Gigondas or Vacqueyras, and the wine showcases this rather elegantly, with high-toned aspects that translate to bright red fruits and powerfully aromatic floral sensations. Xavier calls this wine “sweet without sugar” – bone dry, but ripe, pretty, and loaded with sweet sensations of raspberry pastilles, white cherries, hibiscus, lavender, and rose water, with a fully expansive fruit and spice profile that includes red currants, black pepper, strawberries, iron ore, and a dusting of cinnamon. You’d be more likely to mistake it for a pinot noir than you would a Chateauneuf du Pape, though the blend is some two-thirds grenache, then syrah, and a final dash of mourvedre and viognier.
Xavier’s signature is his non-vintage blend, and this follows suit, being mostly 2016 vintage, with some 2015 and 2017 added in. The wine aging is particularly cool, and where Xavier shows off his mad scientist flare. The barrels of wine are then submerged in a tank...of wine. Seriously. The idea is that wood “breathes” through both sides of a barrel, and as such, is prone to oxidation, even with rigorous topping. This process allows for long aging, and greater integration of flavor, with the nuance that only a barrel can provide – all without sacrificing the desired freshness of a wine. Does it work? Scientifically, you’d have to ask someone else for proof. But anecdotally? Absolutely. This is unbelievably fresh, and terrifically layered and complex. All in all, it might be one of the best and most unique wines I’ve tasted all year. And that’s saying something! At a price well under $25, this is something to grab in quantity and enjoy over the next 7-10 years.
PAIRING IDEAS: Beef tartare. The inherent “coolness” of this wine, the bright fruit and florals, this is a wine to elevate the simple into the sublime. And beef tartare is the perfect vessel for such a glow-up.