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We are proud to be launching our exclusive 2019 En Primeur offer for one of the most well-regarded producers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine Pierre Usseglio & Fils.
‘Unquestionably one of the top estates in France’. Jeb Dunnuck
“Starting with the 2019 Lirac Blanc from Pierre Usseglio, this light gold-hued beauty has a great bouquet of spiced citrus, lime, sappy flowers, and a touch of minerality that comes through on the palate. Medium-bodied and beautifully balanced, with racy acidity yet plenty of fruit, this is a terrific Lirac to enjoy over the coming 2-4 years.” 90 Points, October 2020
£66 per case (6x75cl) In Bond – Buy here
“This estate makes a beautiful Lirac and their 2019 is 50% Grenache, 25% Mourvèdre, 20% Syrah, and a splash of Cinsault that’s from a mix of different terroirs. Destemmed and brought up in equal parts demi-muids and concrete tanks, it’s a seriously good wine that has loads of black raspberry, spice, and garrigue notes, medium to full body, a lush, ripe, yet seamless mouthfeel, and a great finish. It’s well worth seeking out and is ideal for drinking over the coming 3-5 years.” 90/92 Points, October 2020
£66 per case (6x75cl) In Bond – Buy here
“Starting off the three 2019 barrel samples, the 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape is a ripe, classic release from this team that has textbook red and black fruits, ample garrigue and licorice notes, medium to full body, and a lush texture, yet always balanced style on the palate.” 91/93 Points, October 2020
£126 per case (6x75cl) In Bond – Buy here
Châteauneuf-du-Pape ‘Cuvée de Mon Aieul’
“The 100% Grenache 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape Cuvée De Mon Aïeul is stunning stuff, and my money is on it checking in near the top of the vintage. Partially destemmed and brought up in demi-muids, this kirsch, blackberry, white flower, candle wax, and spice-loaded beauty is full-bodied, has a wonderfully layered texture, ripe tannins, and a great finish. It’s certainly a more elegant version of this cuvée and is reminiscent of the 2006. Give bottles 2-3 years and enjoy over the following 15.” 95/97 Points, October 2020
£330 per case (6x75cl) In bond – Buy here
Châteauneuf-du-Pape ‘Réserve Des 2 Freres’
“The 2019 Châteauneuf Du Pape Reserve Des 2 Freres is another brilliant wine. Also all Grenache, it has a slightly darker, more dense style that carries killer notes of blackcurrants, chocolate, roasted garrigue, and spring flowers. It’s a big, rich Châteauneuf du Pape, yet it never goes over the edge and shows the vintage’s pure, elegant, fresher style beautifully. This blockbuster styled barrel sample is going to need 4-5 years of bottle age, and I suspect be in the top handful of wines in the vintage.” 95-97+ Points
£492 per case (6x75cl) In Bond – Buy here
Vintage 2019 Report: The 2019s will be a step up over the 2018s and offer more depth, concentration, and richness, all while showing considerable purity of fruit and elegance. While the year will be known for its hot, dry summer, the region saw substantial precipitation late in 2018 as well as early in 2019. A normal spring (just under 100 millimeters of rainfall) saw a healthy fruit set and yields are up over 2018 and 2017. This early-season rainfall is essential when trying to understand the vintage.
Moving into the summer months, a sweltering heatwave arrived at the end of June, with temperatures topping out at over 110 degrees Fahrenheit. I was in the Rhône at that time, and unfortunately, in a hotel with no air-conditioning. The vineyards were healthy and green at this point and handled the heatwave surprisingly well. It’s important to understand that heatwaves at these early stages in the growing season are much less impactful than later in the year, and if anything, this heatwave helped prepare the vines to deal with the hot, dry conditions later on. Both July and September were hot and dry, and the overall accumulation of the growing season was just 158 millimeters. For comparison, there were 530 millimeters in 2018, 230 millimeters in 2016, and 185 millimeters in 2017. These hot, dry summer months resulted in small, thick-skinned berries. Small rainstorms arrived mid-September and did provide some respite to the vines, but the harvest was already underway at this point. Harvest occurred mostly in September and carried into October for the later ripening varieties.
Looking at the wines, these are inkier colored, concentrated, full-bodied wines that stay surprisingly focused and lively on the palate. Despite the hot growing season, the wines hold onto impressive aromatics, with clean, pure fruit aromas and little in the way of over-ripeness. Tannins across the board appear to be ripe, the wines have plenty of mid-palate depth, as well as length, and I found few signs of over the top wines. Quality throughout the Southern Rhône Valley also appears to be high.
I’ll review these wines in depth next year, but in short, 2019 appears to be a beautiful, possibly exceptional, vintage for the Southern Rhône and is superior to 2018. Jeb Dunnuck, October 2020
© 2021 Jeb Dunnuck / Reprinted with permission
Unquestionably one of the top estates in France is that of brothers Thierry and Jean-Pierre Usseglio, whose estate is located just north of the village of Châteauneuf du Pape, on the route to Orange. They pull from roughly 60 hectares of vines and the lineup has grown to include a Vin de France l’Unique, which replaces their Côtes Du Rhône, as well as a terrific Lirac. Looking at their Châteauneuf du Papes, the classic cuvée is always a Grenache heavy blend that include 15-20% each of Syrah and Mourvèdre, as well as a small amount of Cinsault. This cuvée is normally mostly destemmed (the 2017 has around 30% stems) and is brought up in a mix of used barrels. The Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée Mon Aïeul always comes from the La Serres, La Crau, and La Guigasse lieux-dits and is 100% Grenache. It can vary from being completely destemmed or not at all depending on the vintage, and while past vintages saw a touch of new oak, it’s raised all in used demi-muids today. They also produce a tiny amount of their Châteauneuf du Pape Reserve des Deux Freres and it’s always been a more modern styled cuvée in the past, but the amount of new oak has been cut dramatically in recent vintages, with the 2016 only seeing 20% new barrels. This cuvée is always a cellar selection of the top lots in any vintage, and it’s unfortunately not made in either 2017 or 2018. Lastly, and only in great vintages, they’ll pull out a single barrel from the Les Serres lieu-dit that’s from the oldest vines of the estate. This “Not For You” cuvée has been released in 2007, 2010, and 2016, and it’s Grenache at its most sexy, flamboyant, and over the top. Jeb Dunnuck (8/16/2019)