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Domaine Raymond Usseglio Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Imperiale 2014

Rhone Red Blends from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
  • RP91
0% ABV
  • RP95
  • WS94
  • RP99
  • RP91
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Winemaker Notes

This classic winemaking estate, which employs the well-known Xavier Vignon as their consultant, owns over 45 acres spread throughout Chateauneuf du Pape, with the largest holdings in the north.

Critical Acclaim

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RP 91
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2014 Châteauneuf du Pape Imperiale is 95% Grenache (the rest is a mix of permitted varieties) that comes from three terroirs: Senechaux, la Crau (the northern part) and Pied Long. It’s sees a touch of whole clusters during fermentation and is aged all in concrete tanks. Plums, blueberries, graphite, crushed rocks and hints of spring flowers all flow from this medium to full-bodied, nicely concentrated and elegant Châteauneuf du Pape that shows the more streamlined, elegant style of the vintage, yet is far from simple or mid-weight. Drink it anytime over the coming decade.
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Domaine Raymond Usseglio

Domaine Raymod Usseglio

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Domaine Raymod Usseglio, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
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The property, originally started by Raymond Usseglio, covers 16 ha of AOC Chateauneuf du Pape, one of which is planted with white varieties and 5 ha of Cotes du Rhone and 3 ha of IGP. Stephane Usseglio, son of Raymond, is the third generation to take over. He is pushing to reach the potential of the family’s holdings, some of the best of Chateauneuf. Half his vines are situated near the road in the lieu-dit "La Crau" and the other half on the hill across the road from the actual ruins of the new castle of the Pope. He has the good fortune to have very old vines. The average age for his Chateauneuf vines is between 50 & 60 years old and the cuvee Imperiale vines are over 110 years old. The domain started conversation into agriculture biologique in 2012.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape

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Famous for its full-bodied, seductive and spicy reds with flavor and aroma characteristics reminiscent of black cherry, baked raspberry, garrigue, olive tapenade, lavender and baking spice, Chateauneuf-du-Pape is the leading sub-appellation of the southern Rhône River Valley. Large pebbles resembling river rocks, called "galets" in French, dominate most of the terrain. The stones hold heat and reflect it back up to the low-lying gobelet-trained vines. Though the galets are typical, they are not prominent in every vineyard. Chateau Rayas is the most obvious deviation with very sandy soil.

According to law, eighteen grape varieties are allowed in Chateauneuf-du-Pape and most wines are blends of some mix of these. For reds, Grenache is the star player with Mourvedre and Syrah coming typically second. Others used include Cinsault, Counoise and occasionally Muscardin, Vaccarèse, Picquepoul Noir and Terret Noir.

Only about 6-7% of wine from Chateauneuf-du-Pape is white. Blends and single-varietal bottlings are typically based on the soft and floral Grenache Blanc but Clairette, Bourboulenc and Roussanne are grown with some significance.

The wine of Chateauneuf-du-Pape takes its name from the relocation of the papal court to Avignon. The lore says that after moving in 1309, Pope Clément V (after whom Chateau Pape-Clément in Pessac-Léognan is named) ordered that vines were planted. But it was actually his successor, John XXII, who established the vineyards. The name however, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, translated as "the pope's new castle," didn’t really stick until the 19th century.

Rhône Blends

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With bold fruit flavors and accents of spice, Rhône red blends originated in France’s Southern Rhône valley and have become popular in Priorat, Washington, South Australia, and California’s Central Coast. In the Rhône itself, 19 grape varieties are permitted for use, but many of these blends, are based on Grenache and supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre, earning the nickname “GSM blends.” Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape are perhaps the best-known outposts for these wines. Other varieties that may be found in Rhône blends include Carignan, Cinsault, and Counoise.

In the Glass

The taste profile of a Rhône blend will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache, which often forms the base of these blends, is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit, a plush texture, and often high levels of alcohol. Syrah supplies darker fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy, and meaty notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume as well as body, tannin, and a healthy dose of color. New World examples will lie further along the fruit-forward end of the spectrum, while those from the Old World taste and smell much earthier, often with a “barnyard” character that is attractive to many fans of these wines.

Perfect Pairings

Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. Depending on the weight and alcohol level, these can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes—they play equally well with beef, pork, duck, lamb, or game. With their high acidity, these wines are best-matched with salty or fatty foods, and can handle the acidity of tomato sauce in pizza or pasta. Braised beef cheeks, grilled lamb sausages, or roasted squab are all fine pairings.

Sommelier Secret

Some regions like to put their own local spin on the Rhône red blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin, and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or even Tempranillo make an appearance.

WEYUSSIMP14_2014 Item# 312714