B-21 Top Recommendation
For long-time followers, collectors and consumers of the top rated estates in Chateauneuf du Pape, the surname Usseglio is immediately recognized. The brothers Usseglio – Raymond and Pierre – are owners of separate domaines in the region, Pierre the recipient of the family estate established by his father, Raymond having set off on his own in 1964. Both have their father, Francis Usseglio, to thank for their good fortunes; Francis having left his native Italy in the 1930s to create the family estate in the Rhone Valley.
In 1999, with his wife Danielle's encouragement, Raymond began to relinquish control of the family estate to his son, Stephane, who had tended the parcels with his father, bringing modern touches to the vinification processes since 1995. By 2004, Stephane in full charge of the estate and the world-famous consultant Xavier Vignon (Alain Jaume, Marcoux, La Nerthe) working side by side, Raymond Usseglio et Fils was at the top of its game. Every cuvee produced, from their various Cotes du Rhones through their centenarian vine based Cuvee Imperiale (once unobtainable in the States) eliminates the competition.
The flagship is the Grenache-dominated 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Imperiale, which comes from vines planted in 1902 and was destemmed and aged in concrete tanks. Awesome notes of blackberries, blueberries, crushed rocks, violets, and graphite all emerge from this tight, full-bodied, concentrated and backward Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Possessing incredible purity of fruit, a concentrated yet fresh, structured profile, and a huge finish, it just needs time to shine.
97+ points, Jeb Dunnuck (Aug 2018)
Almost entirely Grenache, from parcels planted in 1901 and 1902, the 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Imperiale is a stunner. Scents of roses, black tea and raspberries set the scene, while the palate is full-bodied but silky and nearly weightless, delivering an intricate, detailed interplay of red fruit, dried spices and orange zest. Despite what must be 15% alcohol or more, it shows absolutely no sign of heat.
95 points, Joe Czerwinski, Wine Advocate (Issue # 238 - Aug 2018)