Sunday, June 17, 2012

Domaine Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape, 1988

This 1988 Pegau has been on my try list for some time, and I opened this bottle as a Fathers' Day present to myself. The bouquet is classic Pegau:: garrigue, cherries, mushrooms and the distinctive Pegau funk. I love that funk, and so do many others. The vineyards that produce  this wine are clearly very special, and Laurence Feraud knows how to present the wine's unique personality. It's very ripe but also savory; almost like dark chocolate with sea salt. Reverberates with unique smells and flavors. Very special.

I was introduced to Domaine Pegau by Alton Turley, a friend who ran a small wine bar in Kalamazoo in the early 1990s. Knowing my love for Chateauneuf, he brought over a bottle of the 1988 for us to try together. I was dubious at first of any Chateauneuf not named Beaucastel, Vieux Telegraphe or Clos du Pape, but we were both highly impressed and asked the importer, J.C. Mathes of J et R, for more. Village Corner in Ann Arbor started bringing in Pegau at about the same time, and I started buying it in preference to my old favorite, Beaucastel. On a trip to France in 1992, I tasted the 1988 again (along with the 1989 and a barrel sample of the 1990) with Laurence Feraud, the winemaker. Robert Parker had given the 1988 only a so-so review, but she assured me that the wine was much better than the review suggested. The 1990, though, she was very excited about, and soon after I read Mr. Parker's 96 point review. It didn't take long for sales of the wine to take off, although the price didn't catch up to the quality for nearly another decade.  The price tag on this bottle says $12.37; that was before my 15% mixed case discount. Current vintages of Pegau Cuvee Reservee now sell for $70 a bottle and up depending on the vintage.

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