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Average critic rating : 98.0 points
The bottled 2009 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Reservee is as compelling as I thought it would be after tasting it last year. A blend of 85% Grenache with the rest Syrah, Mourvedre and small dollops of the other authorized varietals, this wine tends to come from the estate’s holdings in the eastern sector of Chateauneuf du Pape. The opaque purple-colored 2009 exhibits magnificent, rich berry fruit intertwined with cedar, Christmas fruitcake, licorice, charcuterie, roasted meats, smoked duck, kirsch, blackberries and god knows what else. It is an amazingly complex, rich, full-throttle wine that reminds me somewhat of what the 1990 tasted like in 1994/1995. It is a magnificent Chateauneuf du Pape. If you are looking for the garrigue component, it’s also there. ||As I have written many times in the past, Domaine du Pegau is well-known as one of the reference points for traditionally styled wines. One only has to spend a half hour or so talking with father Paul Feraud, or his ambitious and brilliant daughter, Laurence, to understand that they will not make any compromises, nor change their winemaking or upbringing styles to suit the whims of the fickle consumer. Paul, who is in incredible physical condition for his age (he still rides a motorcycle), was a schoolmate of Henri Bonneau. However, his parents were so poor that he was forced to drop out of school at age 14 to work in order to help the family. For that reason, he has always believed that debt is the greatest danger to the success of a small domaine. He is one of those rare individuals who basically pays cash for everything. I doubt that this philosophy has changed much since his daughter, Laurence, took control of the estate. She has added two negociant lines, the Selection Laurence Feraud and the Feraud-Brunel wines, but even with the introduction of several new cuvees (Cuvee da Capo since 1998 and the non-vintage Plan Pegau), this estate continues to go from strength to strength. This is another estate where the bottled wines often taste significantly better than they do from barrel. Let’s discuss the negociant wines first. Laurence Feraud, who has a large qualitative network throughout the southern Rhone, accesses some amazing fruit and finished wine, and then fashions blends that represent top-notch value. Laurence has purchased some additional hectares in Chateauneuf du Pape, which has pushed the size of the estate well past 50 acres. As mentioned before, she is a stickler for quality and these acquisitions have taken place in some of Chateauneuf du Pape’s finest terroirs, including La Crau, Le Grand Pierre (sandy soils are perfect for Grenache), Pignan, Relagnes, Bosquet, Clos St.-Jean and Monpertuis. We will not see any new blends probably until 2012, which was looking like another promising vintage for the southern Rhone at the time of writing (unless the rain of September 24, 2012 had a deleterious affect). Consumers should have a marvelous time comparing the 2009 and 2010 Cuvee Reservees with the 2007. One would have to go back to 1989 and 1990 to find two back-to-back vintages of similar majesty. I tasted two offerings of the Cuvee Laurence, which is made from a blend identical to the Cuvee Reservee, but is aged 36 months prior to bottling. Most of that time the wine is aged in foudre, but then is put into small, old oak barrels, but returned to foudres prior to bottling. The Cuvee Laurence is only made in certain vintages. The Cuvee da Capo selection usually comes primarily from old vines (100+-years-old), mostly Grenache, although the blend can contain about every authorized red varietal. Technically, it is all from the northeastern scorner of La Crau, oriented toward the village of Courthezon. Wine Advocate.October, 2012
Domaine du Pegau: The Importance
As a benchmark estate for the traditional winemaking style of the Rhône Valley, Domaine du Pegau has established itself as one of the most sought-after and finest producers of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Run by father-daughter duo Paul and Laurence Feraud, the winery has been applauded by Robert Parker for their “impressive track record” and consistent production of “blockbuster, chewy, old-style Châteauneuf-du-Papes in much the same manner as those of Feraud’s mentor, Henri Bonneau.” Parker has also described Pegau’s wines as “some of the longest-lived, most interesting wines of the appellation.”
The winery has produced an exquisite range of classics that have been celebrated by Robert Parker as “massive wines that hit the heights in the great vintages yet do surprisingly well in the lighter years.” Domaine du Pegau is therefore a go-to in the very top vintages, but is also a safe pair of hands in lesser vintages as well. This is backed-up by Jancis Robinson’s Oxford Companion to Wine, in which Domaine de Pegau features in her shortlist of the seven most notable wine producers in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Domaine du Pegau’s Cuvée da Capo is the jewel in the crown. It has received perfect scores from Wine Advocate for four separate vintages, with Robert Parker rating the 2000 vintage “among some of the greatest Châteauneuf-du-Papes ever made.” His colleague Jeb Dunnuck has also heaped similar praise on the winery, describing the Cuvée da Capo and Cuvée Reservée as “truly stunning, world-class efforts.”
Domaine du Pegau: The Insight
The legendary Cuvée da Capo is produced from the estate’s oldest Grenache vines rooted in some of Rhône’s most coveted terroir on the La Crau plateau. As Pegau’s most renowned wine, the Cuvée da Capo is produced only in top vintages and limited to around just 500 cases, which is why Jeff Leve, of The Wine Cellar Insider calls it “one of the most expensive and in demand wines in the entire Rhône appellation.”
Pegau’s Cuvée Laurence and Cuvée Reservée are both outstanding. They are essentially the same wine, but the former is aged in wooden casks for an additional 18-24 months before bottling. Only around 650 cases of Cuvée Laurence are produced each vintage.
In 2003 and 2010 the domaine made a spectacular magnum-only cuvée, Pegau Inspiration, made from the best barrels on the estate. Only around 250 numbered magnums of this rarity were produced.
As a charming deviation from their commitment to tradition, the domaine has incorporated music into their wines in recent years. Laurence Feraud often refers to the “the symphony of Châteauneuf”, the 13 grape varieties used to produce the Cuvée da Capo are each like separate instruments brought together in orchestral harmony. The name Cuvée da Capo comes from a musical term meaning to repeat a previous passage. In 2014 Domaine du Pegau added a white wine, Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc Cuvée A Tempo, to their repertoire. This is equally musical, with a unique theme song written for the wine that plays when the label’s barcode is scanned from a mobile phone.
Domaine du Pegau: The Background
Since the seventeenth century ancestors of the Feraud family have been perfecting their time-honoured viticulture methods in the Southern Rhône Valley. Grapes were hand-harvested before they were fermented complete with stems. No filtration or fining was carried out to maintain the robustness of these classic Châteauneuf-du-Papes. These same methods have been upheld throughout the generations to ensure the authenticity of these wines is not diminished.
Elvira and Leon Feraud were the first in the family to purchase vines. When they died, their youngest son Paul inherited a plot. He and his daughter Laurence, who joined him after finishing business school, have since expanded the estate to incorporate over 20 hectares, including plots in Bédarrides, Courthézon and La Solitude. Laurence changed the name to Domaine du Pegau –an ancient term for a terracotta wine jug found during excavations of the Palais de Papes d’Avignon. Laurence continues to take on more of the domaine’s responsibility each year and has ambitiously expanded Pegau’s production by pairing up with Domaine Les Cailloux’s Andre Brunel to produce the Cotes du Rhône négociant line Feraud Brunel. In 2012 the domaine also added an additional 60 hectares of vines in Cotes du Rhône ensuring the Ferauds will be able to select the best grapes for top cuvées while still providing top quality for all of their bottlings.
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