Having been alerted to a new phase in the life of Raymond Usseglio's 2001 Cuvee Imperiale (Chateauneuf-du-Pape) I checked out my own stock to find I had enough of this to give it a try. Previous bottles have all shown good promise but they have all stopped short of actually delivering. Not so this one. The wine has put on a good deal weight since last time (when it seemed almost Beaujolais-like) and now has a rich but pure texture with full mouthfeel and tannins that wrap the wine perfectly. Now it is more Burgundian (and I am talking Grand Cru). The fruit has turned a corner or two too with richness and depth where there was once a question mark. This wine is now eleven years old and it has taken over ten of those years to get to this point. That's old school and, certainly, Stef Usseglio is making wines that show their promise much more obviously at an early stage so it is great to rediscover a classical wine - they don't make 'em like they used to!
The moratorium is over. Decanter’s December issue has been published and I can announce our successes in the recent tasting undertaken by their Rhône expert, Matt Walls who has recently returned from a year and a half in the region. If you look on Decanter.com today (November 2020), you will see a link to ‘Top Côtes du Rhône wines under £20’. What the article doesn’t tell you is that the brief of its writer was to taste and rate wines from across the valley in that price range and that the top scoring white wine was actually a Ventoux. No prizes for guessing that it was Château Juvenal’s 2019 ‘Ribes de Vallat’ Blanc , awarded 91 points, which, at £12.60 is also the best value of any of the white wines on the list: 'From 30- to 40-year-old vines grown on granite south-facing slopes; half of the wine is matured for six months in demi-muid leaving no overt oakiness to the aromatics. Full-bodied, rich and opulent style, very ripe and fulsome. Some mango and pineapple juice. Unmist