Monday, June 16, 2008

Chateauneuf du Pape Domaine du Pegau, 1994

If there is a better match for grilled rack of lamb on Father's Day, I don't what it would be.

Medium deep crimson with amber tones./ How better to describe this wine than to say it smells like Domaine du Pegau? It's about as classic Pegau as you can get with ripe cherry, strawberry fruit poised against deep earthy, leathery elements. There is a high-toned aromatic quality that's hard to pin down. Not floral, not menthol, not Cheracol; simply Pegau. The label says 13.5 percent alcohol but I suspect it's a good bit higher than that. Gives it a cool smell but pleasant warmth on the palate./ Rich, rich, rich and silky smooth--as I say, a perfect match for rack of lamb. The ripe fruit flavors linger for several minutes.

As I reread my notes on the 1993 Pegau Cuvee Reservee from Father's Day last year, I find almost identical impressions. Maybe if I had the wines side by side, I could see the superiority of this 1994, but my memory finds them virtually the same. It's been several years since I've tasted the 1988, 1989, 1990, 1996 and 1997 Pegaus, but I remember all as having the same rich aroma and flavor profile.

I fell in love with Domaine du Pegau when it was first brought into Michigan by J.C. Mathes of J et R Distributors in the late 1980s. At a time when Beaucastel and Vieux Telegraphe (my previous favorites) were escalating in price, Pegau was an inexpensive and delicious alternative. Fortunately (for those producing the wine) and unfortunately (for me), the world has discovered Pegau: the 2005 vintage on the market at the moment retails for about $100 a bottle. It is no longer on my shopping list.

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