Domaine Raymond Usseglio Chateauneuf-du-Pape Pure Roussanne 2013
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.
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.
Full and silky in body but also charmingly crisp, Roussanne makes a stellar blending grape. Thought to be native to the Rhône Valley of France, and still predominantly grown there, it is responsible for some of the finest Northern Rhône white wines. Roussanne adds richness and acidity to Marsanne’s soft, fruitiness, making the age worthy and highly respected whites from the appellations of Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage and St.-Joseph. It has also earned approval as one of the white varieties for Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
In the Glass
Persistent aromas of exotic herbal tea, a full body nearly as complex as a red wine, and distinct apricot and honey flavors make Roussanne unique. With age, these wines gain a more oily or glycerin texture.
Richer fish dishes such as salmon, lobster, crab or grilled shrimp work well with Roussanne and its blends. A meal of roast chicken with herbs and winter vegetables is also delicious. Stuffed butternut squash, vegetarian curry and baked brie with apricots are other ideas to pair with Roussanne based wines.
Roussanne takes its name from the French word “roux,” meaning rouge or red because of the grapes’ pink glow. In California, virtually all of the 339 acres of Roussanne come from true clones brought over by Tablas Creek and John Alban.