Domaine Pierre Usseglio is a 53-acre estate in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, in the Rhone Valley. Founded in the early 20th century by an Italian family from Piedmont, the estate remains in the hands of the Usseglio family. Specifically it is now run by brothers Jean-Pierre and Thierry Usseglio, who added 20 acres of old vine vineyards and have fine-tuned winemaking at the estate. The estate grows Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault and produces a total of about 70,000 bottles annually. However, there is a much more limited production of the two signature cuvees, which are Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee du Mon Aieul, and Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve des Deux Freres. The Reserve des Deux Freres is selected by the brothers as the best of the best. Both luxury cuvees win consistent praise from wine reviewers.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the appellation, is a large area of nearly 8,000 vineyard acres centered around the picturesque town of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Located in southeastern France just north of the Avignon hills, the name of the appellation means “new castle of the pope” and it is a reference to the 14th century, when the Popes of Avignon built summer homes in the Southern Rhone Valley. Today the appellation is one of the most renowned in France and its terroir is known for layers of small pebbles, called “galets.” The stones in the soil are thought to help store heat and keep the soil warm, which helps ripen the grapes. The stones also help keep the soil from drying out in hot summer months. In 1923 Châteauneuf-du-Pape was a leader in establishing the idea that AOC wines in France should be made only with specified grapes, and the appellation allowed 13 grape varieties to be used. Since then the rules have been slightly modified to include several more allowable grapes. Red and white wines are produced, though in practice about 97% of all Châteauneuf –du-Papes are reds made with a blend of Grenache Noir, Cinsault, Counoise, Mourvedre, Muscardine, Syrah and Vaccarese. The red wines of this appellation are prized for being big, rich, spicy and full-bodied. White wines of the appellation are made with Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc, Roussanne, Picpoul and Picardin. Whites are floral, fruity and relatively full-bodied.