To Chateauneuf du Pape..again, such hardship..for a meeting and tasting with the village’s arguably most eminent female winemaker Laurence Feraud of Domaine Pegau. This is a property that has risen to stellar hights in quite a short period…her father Paul only started bottling their own wines in the 1970’s, the name Pegau (derived from the Provencal for a drinking vessal) only came into being in the late 80’s. Still today the property is modest, the cave is something of a mess by Laurence’s own admission and the only signs of commercial success aside from Laurence’s Audi are the heavy diggers working on a brand new cellar adjacent to the existing one due for completion before next harvest.
Pegau is a fine example of a family estate..father Paul at close on 70 still works the vines (spread around the appellation at different locations) and assists in the cellar, Laurence who has an Oenology degree and joined the business in 1987 has led the wine making since the early 90’s and travels widely as part of her marketing remit, whilst Mme Feraud looks after the books in the office. There are only 3 other full time employees.
The estate comprises 19 hectares of CnduP, including just 1 hectare of white varieties, plus a further 6 hectares of an excellent vin de table red “Plan Pegau”. Laurence also buys in wines she likes from Gigondas and Seguret, marketing them as “Selection Laurence Feraud”. Around 85% of the CnduP production goes into the Cuvée Reservée. The cepage: 85% Grenache, 9% Syrah, 4% Mourvedre plus a sprinkling of the other authorised varieties. Average age of the vines is 60 years. These wines are made in as traditional a manner as it gets in the appellation – hand picked, whole bunches in the tanks, natural yeasts, a relatively short maceration of 7-14 days, and maturation for a minimum 18 months in 50 hectolitre foudre. No barrique interlopers here. There is a minimum of fining and filtering. The cuvée Laurence is made in exactly the same way but is aged for longer whilst a premium cuvée the Da Capo is made in fine years from a selection made from the better plots and aged for 18-24 months. The white is made from 60% Grenache, 20% Clairette, 10% Bourboulenc/10% Roussane.
With Laurence and her US distibutor JC Mathes of J et R Selections I tasted all four wines from either barrel or bottle. The wine with most immediate appeal was the current release of the 2006 Cuvée Reservée, pronounced leather and spice on the nose, super sexy velvet tannins and herb infused red fruits and an elegant long finish. The body is medium to full, definitely a Chateauneuf trying to seduce rather than blow you away with its power. Unquestionably delicious now, it will last another 10 years or more. Parker score: 91-93. I put any thought of economic restraint on hold and purchased a case…for La Madelene Rhone Wine Holidays customers naturally!