A custom cuvée put together by their importer, the 2018 Châteauneuf Du Pape Cuvée Girard from Raymond Usseglio generally includes slightly more Mourvèdre, but by and large, normally tracks the base cuvée pretty closely. Deep ruby/purple, with a meaty, powerful bouquet of black raspberries, ground pepper, cured meats, and flowery garrigue, this beauty is medium to full-bodied and has a wonderful, supple mouthfeel, silky tannins and a great finish. I actually like it a little more than the base cuvée, but it should age similarly, with a solid 10-12 years or more of prime drinking. Readers looking for the next superstar estate in Châteauneuf du Pape and Côtes du Rhône need to get on Raymond Usseglio’s bandwagon ASAP as the quality here is equal to anything out there today. I still remember writing in 2016 how the quality was on the uptick, and there’s no better example than these latest 2018s and 2019s. The 2018s shows the more pretty, elegant style of the vintage, yet bring ample depth and concentration. The 2019s are a step up and offer another level of depth and concentration. Both vintages show incredible purity of fruit and balance. In addition to his Châteauneuf du Pape, don’t miss the Côtes du Rhônes and Vin de France releases!
The 2018 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Girard hadn't been blended when I visited the estate last year, so this bottled sample was my first look at the cuvée for the American importer. It closely mirrors the regular bottling, but typically includes a bit more old-vine Grenache. The nose is similar, offering up hints of dried spices, earth and black cherries, but the feel on the full-bodied palate is richer and more enveloping, with a creamy-velvety texture that flows seamlessly onto the long, plush finish. Despite the early hour of my appointment back in June 2019, this was one of my favorite visits of that trip, so it was a pleasure to taste through the lineup of bottled wines this summer. The 2018 Cuvée Imperiale is one of the top wines of the vintage, but perhaps the wine that captured my attention the most was the 2019 Le Peche Originel, a vin de France made from Cinsault. Buy some if you can find any. (JC)
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