Posts Tagged ‘Châteauneuf du Pape’

In 1931 an Italian Francis Usseglio left Italy and went to Chateauneuf du Pape and got a job working in the vineyards. In 1948, after the war, he got his own property.

Francis had two sons, Pierre and Raymond. Pierre got his father’s property and Raymond established another estate.

The third generation is in now in charge of both estates. The sons of Pierre Usseglio, Jean-Pierre and Thierry run Domaine Pierre Usseglio and Stephanie runs Domaine Raymond Usseglio.

Domaine Pierre Usseglio consists of 22 hectacres divided into 15 different parcels in the appellation. Half of the vines are about 60 years old and the rest are about 30 years old. The Red Chateauneuf du Pape is usually made from 75 % Grenache and the rest Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvèdre. It is aged in oak casks for 12-18 months depending of the vintage.

Ruby red with a touch of copper in color. On the nose, there are some earthy and barnyard elements with sour cherry, rhubarb and stewed fruit characteristics. On the palate, roasted cherry, strawberry, some black licorice, plum and prune with stewed rhubarb, leather with a touch of pine, herbaceousness and a bit musty. Structured and tannic, but a bit thin. A good CDP, but I have to say that I was a bit disappointed and expect there are better CDPs at this price point.


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This is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette, and Roussanne. Pale straw in the glass. The aromatics are a bit subdued with notes of pear, honeysuckle, white flowers, lime and macadamia nut.

On the palate, stone fruit, pear, honey, melon with some citrus, a touch of almond and toast. Very good minerality.

The owners tend to downplay and are quite modest about their white wine — and indeed are better known for their red blend. I found it to be a very good bottle of wine, and an excellent food wine. I was able to get this at about 40 percent off retail, and might have expected a bit more had I paid retail — though in wine, the phrase “you get what you pay for” does not carry much weight in the wine world.

Given the chance, I would probably have picked up more of their Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge instead, but it will be interesting to see how this wine evolves over the next couple of years.

About Le Vieux Donjon
Le Vieux Donjon is owned by Marie José and Lucien Michel, they have been in charge of the estate since 1978. The domain was founded by the father of Lucien Michel, Marcel Michel.

The domain covers just over 34 acres of Chateauneuf du Pape. They follow a traditional vinification process, including an extended maceration with stems, long aging in older foudres. The individual varieties are not vinified separately the way they would be at most Chateaunuef estates. They only produce one cuvée of red and of white Chateauneuf du Pape is made.

Average production is about 3,200 cases.

“I have been buying the wines of Le Vieux Donjon for well over a decade, and I continue to be impressed by how consistently classic they are. [This] continues to be the most underrated great estate of the appellation.”
Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate

“The style of the wines is unashamedly, ‘traditionelle’ – vins de garde with plenty of backbone and muscle to them. However, these are no clumsy blockbusters, but wines with real definition and elegance underneath powerful exteriors. … . These are well-constituted wines with great depth and extract, which manage to retain finesse. This is relatively rare in an appellation where size and clumsiness abound and one frequently looks in vain for subtlety…Sales of Le Vieux Donjon are not a problem for Marie-José and Lucien Michel. One can taste why.”
Remington Norman, Rhone Renaissance

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I have been looking for this for quite a while — yes, it was like $70 a bottle when released — but still the best deal around.

The Wine Exchange just got an allocation — this will probably be the last of it — I am sure it will be sell out very quickly.

You can buy it here.

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cdpb.jpgPatrick Lesec states he makes great efforts to search out the finest terroirs, the best soils with old vineyards — and thus the finest sources of grapes — in each appellation. His wines receive a minimal amount of handling and processing. His goal is to produce natural wines which truly express the specific character of the grape variety and the unique qualities of the terroir. Many say that his wines taste like their appellations. This is not an exercise in the large scale production of mass produced, international style varietal wines, but rather homage to the concept of terroir in the French style (Lesec is probably a study in contrasts with Michel Rolland).

He contends that his wines are natural, unmanipulated that, for the most part, are bottled unfined and unfiltered with low levels of sulphur. He produces many interesting Cotes du Rhone cuvees, but is probably best known for his wines from Chateauneuf du Pape, which he recognizes as an appellation with many phenomenal terroirs.

The 2000 Marquis is showing quite well, it is quite elegant, but also lush, nice black raspberry fruit and soft, chocolatey tannins. I might hold on to this for another 2-3 years, but I don’t expect it to show better than it currently does. Certainly not a blockbuster CdP, but it is a very nice bottle of wine in an old world style that really showcases the Grenache.

His wines are certainly worth seeking out……..they are not the sexiest, biggest fruit bombs on the block, but they are earnest, true and very well made.

Reviews for 2000 Vintage
Wine Advocate
91 points

The Chateauneuf du Pape Marquis is a 16,000 bottle cuvee made from primarily Grenache with a dollop of Mourvedre (7%) and Syrah (3%) included in the blend. The fruit is from two of the appellation’s finest sectors. The 2000 is full-bodied and rich, with loads of black cherry fruit intermixed with plum, fig, tobacco, and lavender characteristics. This unctuous, supple, velvety-textured effort will drink well for 10-12 years.

International Wine Cellar
Points: 90

Good medium ruby. Vinous, aromatic nose of superripe berries, dark chocolate, roasted herbs and violet. Ripe, supple and stylish, with complex, firm flavors. Has excellent breadth. Finishes with fine tannins and a note of chocolate.

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