Robert Parker's replacement for Rhone reviews, Jeb Dunnuck has given a stunning reappraisal of many wines from the 2011 vintage.
First a word about 2012 which he describes as "a great vintage for the whites". I could have told him that in April when I first tasted the white wines from Laurent Brusset, Domaine des Anges and Raymond Usseglio whose new Cotes du Rhone Blanc scores an outstanding 90 points. That seems fair to me; it is a truly superb white.
Raymond Usseglio's 2011 reds (in stock) all receive excellent reviews and, for me, it is about time his Part des Anges cuvee got the top score (not that I have any problems with the delicious 2011 Imperiale - I just think Stephane should be rewarded for his efforts and successes with this fairly new wine). This is a sensationally black-fruited wine that just goes on and on. I had a bottle of the 2007 with a friend a couple of weeks ago - he had not tasted this cuvee before and was completely bowled over. Yes, on paper 2007 is a better vintage but as Dunnuck says, 2011 is "a very good vintage for Mourvedre".
Domaines Grand Veneur and Cristia both received very favourable reviews for both their 2011 and 2012 wines too but as these are not yet in stock, I will confine myself to a "well done!" to them.
However, Xavier Vignon is fast becoming a name to watch. Indeed, his spectacular 2007 Anonyme, a wine blended from parcels he obtained from some of his most illustrious clients in Chateauneuf-du-Pape (who include Raymond Usseglio and Grand Veneur), sold out incredibly quickly. I have, just today, taken delivery of my case of the 2010 of this wine which, given the vintage, may be even better but, reading the Wine Advocate, I am already getting excited about several new wines from Xavier - including the 2011 Anonyme and a new white Anonyme - but also:
Sacrilege, a wine from the 2012 vintage which is a blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah. The grapes are sourced from two of the most prestigious vineyard areas for these varieties but in one case it is not permitted to declassify the wine except as vin de France. This means Xavier is not allowed to state the origins of the wine and, whilst we know the back story, we cannot go against this, obviously. Anyway, vin de France it is and, as such, it may well be the most expensive one on the market.
Reserve VII IX X which is a blend of the very best parcels of Anonyme from 2007, 2009 and 2010, likely to be the most expensive non-vintage wine ever made in Chateauneuf. More important, knowing Xavier and his wines, it is likely to be a phenomenon.
I have already reserved my cases of these!