When I bought this wine (2002?), Domaine Pegau's Chateauneuf du Pape was rapidly becoming a cult wine. On the erobertparker.com message board, you could find numerous tasting notes and raves about Pegau and its winemaker, Laurence Feraud. I was pleased with the recognition being given to this estate. I had been buying Pegau Chateauneuf in quantity since the 1988 vintage and had visited the estate and talked with Laurence Feraud in 1992. It was one of my favorite wines and one that I could afford to buy in quantity ($8 to $12 a bottle) and drink with some regularity. With the 2000 vintage, however, the increased attention started to bring a dramatic upswing in price. When I saw the $37 tag on the wine I considered one of my "regulars," I decided to look elsewhere for good buys in Chateauneuf du Pape. That price now looks like a bargain; the 2005 vintage is selling right now for about $100.
In that context, this 2000 Plan Pegau, a non-vintage and non-appellation wine produced by Laurence Feraud, seemed like a super bargain. Fellow wine lovers on the ebob message board were singing its praises as a baby Chateauneuf, and I was quite smug when I saw it available and picked up three bottles at $12--a price I once paid for the real thing.
The first bottle I brought out over the holidays that year, with great expectations...and more than a little disappointment. The wine was uncharacteristically hard, even for a young wine--not what I had previously encountered with Domaine Pegau. I waited at least a year before opening the next bottle but had a similar impression. Although the tannins had softened a little, they were still a bit rustic and there were none of the qualities that defined Pegau for me. This final bottle got overlooked in the cellar, and I'll admit that I may have waited a bit too long to pull the cork. My impressions are mixed but still negative.
The color is a deep ruby, somewhat burnished, but healthy. The earthy, funky smells of Pegau are obvious--animal fur, black licorice, pepper, berries and probably brett or H2S. All of the smells are deep and black and remind me of old time Vacqueyras from the early 1980s. I like these qualities, but I know that many others (including my wife and daughter) do not. On the palate, the impressions from the nose become more negative. Too much funky business, even for me. There is an off note (H2S? or maybe too much age?) that causes a tingly feeling on the tongue and cuts off the flavors I expect on the finish. In a Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape, the funk is part of the attraction but it is always countered by a beautiful, sweet, delicate floral and red fruit charm underneath--an entrancing combination. And that's what is missing from this wine.
On the second night, after the wine had sucked up some air, the flavors became more positive and the off note not as apparent. It's a decent vin de pays but not a baby Chateauneuf du Pape. For $12, I can find a better Southern Rhone.