Robert M. Parker, Jr.
For the fourth time, the Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee da Capo has been produced, and for the fourth time, it has received a perfect score although I might back off the 2000's perfect score based on the fact that it seems to be more of an upper-ninety point wine than pure perfection these days. The 2007 may come closest in style to the 1998, the debut vintage, although the tannins are sweeter and the wine is perhaps fatter and richer in the mouth. The alcohols in these cuvees can be very high, ranging from 16.1% in 2003, 15.8% in 2000, 16.3% in 1998, to 15.5% (the lowest ever) in 2007. An inky/purple color is followed by aromas of smoked meats, Peking duck, licorice, lavender, aged beef, grilled steak blood, black currants, plums, sauteed cepes and soy. Enormously concentrated, broad, expansive and massive but not over the top, this is a tour de force in winemaking that is impossible to imagine unless one has a bottle to work through over the course of 4 to 5 hours. Although they advertise using all 13 authorized varietals, this wine is over 90% Grenache, largely from the famed La Crau section of Chateauneuf du Pape. They do have other vineyards from which they pull some of the fruit that goes into the Cuvee da Capo, including St.-Jean, Esquilons and occasionally Monpertuis. The 2007 seems to be broader, fatter, more unctuously textured and more flattering to drink at this stage than the 1998 was. In that sense, the evolutionary development may resemble their 2003s. The 2007 was bottled in February, 2010, and my anticipated drinking dates are 2014-2030. Always one of my favorite places to visit, Laurence Feraud and her father, Paul (a speed fanatic who raced in on a motorcycle during my visit), conducted a fascinating tasting in their cellars. As value hunters know, several of the low end offerings here are wonderful expressions of Provence that deserve to be taken seriously. Under the familys negociant label, Selection Laurence Feraud, there are some noteworthy efforts that are well worth checking out. As for the Domaine du Pegau estate wines, I had not yet tasted the 2007 Cuvee Reservee or 2007 Cuvee da Capo from bottle, and when I did, they lived up to all my previous accolades. Here are some in-the-bottle reports on recent vintages of Domaine du Pegaus Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Reservee, Cuvee Laurence and Cuvee da Capo. I have been buying the Cuvee Reservees since 1979 and the greatest examples include the 1981, 1983, 1985, 1989, 1990, 2003 and the 2007. Not that the other offerings are not high quality, but as Shakespeare said, Comparisons are odious.
Opaque ruby. Heady bouquet of raspberry, blueberry, potpourri and smoky minerals; there's a purity and power to the aromas that reminded me of a Gros Freres Richebourg. Deeply concentrated but eerily fresh, with deep, sweet red and blue fruit flavors accented by Asian spices, anise and candied lavender. Finishes with superb lift and clarity and a sweet blast of creme de cassis, with no rough edges.