Rhone Valley and Domaine du Pegau

Steve Tartaglia

Grapevines have been cultivated on the sunny slopes of Chateauneuf du Pape’s five-mile wide, eight-mile-long position in southern France’s Rhone valley since Roman times. In fact, the most intact Roman amphitheater in all of Europe is in the lovely city of Orange on the north edge of Chateauneuf. Famously, Chateauneuf du Pape gets its name from the re-settling of two Popes, Pope Clement V, a visitor and wine lover who settled in Avignon to the Southeast, and then John XXII who built and resided in the medieval castle that looms over the village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape (or Castle of the Pope) to this day.

In the days of the Romans, the region was known as Calcernarium, a reference to the limestone soil mostly found in the west, yet the more famous terrain aspects are the beautiful "galets roules" polished stones that retain the blazing heat from this sunniest part of France. These stones continue to radiate their warmth well into the night, further ripening the grapevines at their gnarled roots. Such terrain is home to the more powerful Chateauneuf-du-Pape reds. In the north, south, and east you will see clay, sand or mixtures of all of the above, hospitable to the delightful whites and to more austere and perfumed reds. Under the nearly guaranteed summer sunshine that bakes these poor, infertile soils that grapevines love to burrow deep down into, the Mistral winds blow. These vine-friendly blasts of cool air from the North can hit 60 MPH and keep fungus, insects and other blight from bothering the vines, keeping them dry and safe from disease.

There are many wine producers in Chateauneuf, some good, while many others are average at best. There are a few truly grand estates. Among the handful of producers that can silence a room whence their name is mentioned is Domaine du Pegau.

The story of Domaine du Pegau is a classic French tale of history, passion, and artistry… past, present, and future. The Féraud family who owns Pegau have been growing vines in Chateauneuf-du-Pape since 1670, with titles to their earliest vineyards dating back to 1733. But the glass of deep garnet red that sits before me right now, the young and commanding Cuvée Réservée Rouge 2016, is not just telling me a story of the past and of tradition, of grapes from vines that have endured two world wars, of a land that literally sings as if the mistral winds were given a voice. No, the flavors and aromas of cigar box, blackcurrant, saddle leather and garrigue (that umami of the wine world which transports one through an arid country path. lined with mixed wild herbs and fragrant brush) speak to me that despite all the history behind this property, this is modern-day labor of love, handcrafted by the Domaine’s contemporary Ferauds, father and daughter team Paul and Laurence.

After her studies in Paris, Laurence returned to her home full of vision and verve about the future of her family’s famous parcels in Chateauneuf, and shortly thereafter in 1987 what was once a farm that sold grapes to other producers became an estate-bottled Domaine, named Pegau (after the ancient terracotta jugs used in the Pope’s summer residence that gave the village its name). Using new equipment while remaining true to techniques proven over centuries, Laurence and Paul quickly earned international acclaim for their Cuvee Reservee (which is what I’m savoring) and their other four reds along with a rare, mind-blowing white Chateauneuf. This red that continues to evolve into magical layers of deep black fruit and more spice and culinary notes, is a blend of 75% Grenache, 20% Syrah, with the remaining 5% being made up of Mourvedre, Counoise and other native varieties. The grapes are hand-harvested and are then fermented without being de-stemmed. The wine is aged for around 18 months in old oak foudres without fining or filtration. Fire up a good cut of natural veggies, some well-bread pork, beef or a whole chicken and grace it with those garrigue herbs like sage, lavender, thyme, and tarragon!

We are proud to offer the greatest selection of Domaine du Pegau Cuvée Réservée Rouge you will find, including three, six and nine-liter bottlings, you must come check them out!!

Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Reserve 2015
Available in 750 ml

Jeb Dunnuck. A vintage compared to 2010 by Laurence, the 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape looks to be one of the big successes in the vintage. Possessing a ripe, rounded, sexy style backed up by solid density and concentration, it offers classic Pegau notes of currants, pepper, and cured meats. Big, rich, concentrated and beautifully textured, it offers a rare depth of fruit and richness in the vintage. 97 points

Rober Parker - 95 points
Wine Spectator - 94 points

Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Reserve 2016
Available in 750 ml and 1.5 Liter

Wine Enthusiast. Inflections of violet and rose petal mingle into crushed earth and dried mushroom in this deeply complex red. Blackcherry and black-currant flavors are profoundly ripe but muted by shades of leather, fur, and garrigue. Nuanced, deeply satisfying wine, it offers both concentrated ripeness and old-world restraint. 97 points

Jeb Dunnuck - 97 points
Robert Parker - 95 points

Domaine du Pegau Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Reserve 2017
Available in 3L, 6L, and 9L

Jeb Dunnuck. The 2017 Chateauneuf Du Pape checks in as 48% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 22% Mourvèdre brought up largely in foudres, with small amounts in old barrels and concrete tanks. Deeply colored (more so than normal) with powerful notes of blackberries, currants, ground pepper, leafy herbs, and hints of seaweed wrappers (think sushi wrappers), it hits the palate with a full-bodied concentrated, powerful style that carries polished tannins, ample fruit, and a great finish. Marking a subtle shift in style here, this red will benefit from 3-4 years of bottle age. 96 points

Robert Parker - 96 Points
Vinous - 94 points

Click the link for a complete list of wines offered by Domaine du Pegau.


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