Three wines from Pierre Usseglio including two 2011s

A couple of days ago I tasted three wines from Domaine Pierre Usseglio in vintages that were launched by a (French-)Swedish wine dealer called Caviste.

Usseglio is primarily a Châteauneuf-du-Pape producer, but also makes wines from some other surrounding appellations. With the exception of some prestige cuvées produced in smaller amounts, the wines from this address see no or only small amounts of oak, are much dominated by Grenache, and at the basic level they don’t seem to strive to produce heavyweight wines. So I’d describe Usseglio as a mostly traditionally oriented producer. I liked these wines, and in particular the mineral notes and elegance of the 2011 Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The wines have pure notes and give a fruity impression with varying degrees of mineral notes, but don’t have as sweet fruit notes as some of their neighbours. I believe that these are wines that could also appeal to those who primarily drink red from cooler regions and who consider some modern South Rhône wines to be “a little too much”. This said, the wines do originate from a hot region, so they do have some alcohol feeling, but in my opinion it stays within reasonable bounds.

Usseglio 20131106

Côtes du Rhône at the right, the regular Châteauneuf-du-Papen in the middle, and Cuvée de Mon Aïeul on the left.

2011 Cotes du Rhône (Cuvée Traditionelle Rouge)
From some vineyards just outside the limits of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 70% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, 10% Cinsault, no oak.

Nose with a fruity impression and ripe red berries including strawberries and cherries, spice including dried spices, some balsamico. Medium bodied, palate with red berries and good concentration of fruit, some mineral, slightly fiery impression, medium tannins. A fruity and dry (i.e., non-sweet) aftertaste with some tannin and mineral. Can be consumed now, but can also be cellared and would probably improve somewhat by waiting 1-2 years. 88 p.

Slightly more “drink now”-styled than the Châteauneuf, and actually a little darker fruit notes.

2011 Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Cuvée Traditionelle Rouge)
80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre, 5% Cinsault.

Nose with noticeable minerality, ripe red berries, dried herbs with hints mint, som balsamico; definitely elegant. Medium bodied(+), powerful concentration of ripe red berries including strawberries, some sweetness of fruit in the attack, strong mineral notes, some herbal notes and some alcoholic fire, medium tannins. Aftertaste with red berries, mineral and some tannin. Very elegant for a Châteauneuf-du-Pape! OK to drink now, but would benefit from a few years of cellaring, 91(+) p.

Slightly lighter fruit/berry notes than the Côtes du Rhône and less “generally spicy”, but definitely more mineral notes. Quite good for the price!

2010 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de Mon Aïeul
90% Grenache, 10% Syrah.

Nose with ripe cherries and dark berries, some balsamico notes, rather pronounced flowery notes with violets, spices and some dried herbs, some mineral. Medium bodied+, palate with ripe dark cherries and other berries, quite concentrated, some sweetness of fruit, mineral, and noticeable medium+ tannins. The aftertaste shows ripe dark berries and some tannin. Young, should be allowed some years in the cellar (drinking window 2015-2020+), 92+ p.

This wine shows considerably darker fruit notes and is more concentrated than the regular Châteauneuf wine, which makes it bigger and in more need of cellaring. The concentration means that this wine hides its alcohol best of the three. The mineral notes are there, but are more in the background than in the regular cuvée, which means that this wine builds its elegance a bit more on the flowery notes. In this case, we are closer to a “modern” interpretation of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, as it can be found in many famed prestige cuvées, but pleasantly enough without noticeable oak notes or excessive sweetness.

The Swedish version is here.

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