Pegau vertical and other treats

July 17th, 2010. A good night.

Opening whites:

Franck Peillot Roussette du Bugey Montagnieu Altesse 2001: what a beauty. This is what Wikipedia says about Altesse:

“Altesse or Roussette is a variety of white grape found primarily in the Savoy wine region of France.[1] It yields small harvests and ripens late but is resistant to grey rot. Wines made from Altesse have exotic aromas, often together with citrus and herbs, and have good acidity. They are considered to age well.[1] Altesse is the variety used for the appellation Roussette de Savoie as well as Roussette du Bugey in the neighbouring tiny wine region of Bugey. For wines which only display the appellation name, rather than the appellation name together with that of a village, it has previously been allowed to blend in up to 50% of Chardonnay. This practice has recently been phased out from Savoy and is being phased out from Bugey. From the 2001 vintage all Roussette de Savoie must be made from 100% Altesse, and from the 2009 vintage the same applies to all Roussette de Bugey.[2][3] The “Roussette” wines of Savoy and Bugey are produced both with and without the influence of oak.

This wine was clean, complex spicy and tart with refreshing lift and white flower aromatics. Mild white pepper and ticklishly good on the finish. This is a 9 year old presumably un-oaked white wine from a relatively obscure region that is absolutely singing.

Cottat Sancerre VV 07: textbook Sancerre with pleasing grassy lemon nose. Has depth but not terribly powerful. A summer sipper and fine wine.

La Stoppa “Ageno” 2004 (Emilia-Romagna): From the web–Ageno is a Malvasia blend (Malvasia 60%, Ortrugo e Trebbiano 40%) named after one of winemaker Elena Pantaleoni’s ancestors. She lets the juice macerate with the grape skins for an extended period (a very unusual approach to vinification of white wine). The resulting wine is intensely flavored and fragrant, rich in color and taste. Ageno is best served to cleanse the palate between courses.

This wine was simply stunning—dark amber orange, with notes of almond, orange peel, acacia, hint of sherry; incredibly rich yet dry at the same time. Consistently refreshing and intellectually stimulating. Perhaps lacked the intensity of Gravner or Radikon, but made up for it with delicate complexity. At $35, quite the deal.

Fevre Chablis Montmain (1er Cru) 2003: Served blind (as were the others), most pegged this for Chablis but nobody offered up the vintage. Crisp, bright with a kiss of oak this was darn good and longed for a plate of crab or a bowl of clams (sadly, none were forthcoming).

Now onto the main event: A vertical of Domaine du Pegau CdP Reservee. These were served single blind (we knew which vintages were in the tasting) and I will list the results from Group Last place to First. We all found remarkable consistency in this line-up validating the reputation of this producer. The group tabulations are listed below.

6th place wine: 1995 (!)—Pretty shocking when the bag came off as we expected this wine to place much higher. I actually had it ranked #2 and enjoyed the good full rich, round meaty, blueberry/blackberry, “Briar” patch nature of the wine. Later, the alcohol became somewhat more noticeable, granted, but this seemed like textbook Chateauneuf to me.

5th place wine: 1997—Slightly lean, suggestive of a less ripe vintage. The alcohol stuck out a bit, but the wine maintained elegance, seemed “burgundian” with lighter and leaner style. As time passed, the alcohol became more evident. Certainly not a bad wine, just in tough competition with its siblings. My 6th place wine.

4th place wine: 2000—Bitter almond, tannic, big alcohol, pepper, garrique. Certainly better when the 15 lbs of Boneless Ribeye were served. Asian spices and some soy-notes emerged toward the end (my 5th place wine).

3rd place wine: 1998—Gripping, tart and chalky, drying tannins. This wine was fatter and fuller bodied than most of its brethren, and currently lacked the complexity but showed potential. Still needs time, big time. My 3rd place wine as well.

2nd place wine: 2001—Deep rich, meaty, sauvage. Balanced. Briary/blackberry patch but for me the finish was just a little short and less interesting than some of the others. This was a wine that slowly dropped in my personal rankings as time wore on—my 4th place.

1st place wine: 1999—Great balance, young, ripping but balanced tannin. Alcohol in check but evident. Full bodied but not corpulent, and still with the Chateauneuf animal/sauvage meaty funk ….and everything right where it should be. Consensus number one. Another great example of the Pegau 99, which we’d been drinking and loving for years (and a relative deal, at least at the time). Say what you want about 99 CdPs…then send ‘em to me.

Post-pours did not suck either:

  1. Feraud-Brunel CdP 2000 (I understand this is a mix of fruit from Pegau and Cailloux?)—sweet and Grenache driven but not cloying. Well balanced, lighter and brighter style than the Pegaus but very attractive in its own right. Drinking well now but should have several years of life ahead.

  2. Vieux Telegraph 99 (1/2 bottle)—sour cherry, tart, citric and slight acetate on the nose. Palate was better, but there was something off about this bottle.

  3. Bruno Sorg (Alsace) Pinot Gris VT 1999—exotic cool-pineapple, sweet jasmine and sandalwood, anis. Minty, intoxicating eastern spices (cardamom?), Great balance. Man I loved this wine.

  4. Baumard Le Vert De L’Or 1999—(love the play on the word ‘verdejo’ and the greenish label). From what I understand, planting of Verdejo is not permissible in the Loire, yet there it is and Baumard basically has refused to graft these vines over (some wine geek reading this please clarify). And why should they? Sweet cool, sweaty in a good way, slightly peanutty; pretty clearly from the Loire when served to us blind but also not-quite-chenin-blanc. Always interesting and good.

  5. Huet Cuvee Constance 2002—what can you say? Unctuous and sweet, but light, clean and refreshing at the same time. Hopelessly young, but with great balance, power and grace even at a young age. A treat to be sure, and a nice complement to Michele’s cornmeal crust blueberry pie w/ lemon curd. Good lord.

All in all, another summer evening that did not disappoint.

Great notes Doug and I’m a bit shocked by the results but havent tasted blind so can totally empathize. I hear 01 is really rounding in form but 98 has been my favorite at this juncture. I like the 99 but don’t find it as thrilling as the 01/98. Great wines across the board nonetheless and it really isn’t a question of selecting vintage with Pegau; rather it is a question of when you will drink them as they all peak at different times and really show wonderfully.


yes, perhaps I didn’t adequately stress the superb overall quality of the wines. IMO the only one that lacked the ‘house style’ was the 97, which was also rather enjoyable. I’ve always loved Pegau, Clos de Papes and Charvin … my ‘must have’ CdPs.


Doug - Thanks for the great notes. The opening set of wines sounds as exciting to me as the main event. I love Peillot’s Altese. It’s such a nice alternative. His Mondeuse is another superb effort. The Ageno sounds like a wine I’d really like to try. As far as Pegau, I’m not surprised about the '99 performance. I have loved that wine from day 1. I always ask the same question, in terms of the '99: Was this the orginal Reservee release or was this the second release (which saw extended foudre aging as it was meant to be Cuvee Laurence)? I think with time the '01 will be an absolute stunner. I’ve had the '01 recently a few times. It seems like it is just beginning to enter it’s drinking window. The wine shows great potential with some extended contact to O2. Thanks again for sharing.

Very interesting notes … not in complete accordance with my impressions with these wines … but so what, it were different bottles in different continents …

Feraud-Brunel is a negociant line from bought-in grapes or wine … I doubt there is any Cailloux-Pegau in it … [stirthepothal.gif]

The 1999 Vieux Telegraph didn´t impress me vm when tasted, but it should certainly be better than your halfes …


Yes, I think you’re right Gerhard, thanks–the fruit for the Feraud-Brunel CdP appears to be purchased:

"Feraud-Brunel is a promising negociant enterprise that began in 1998 with the partnership between Laurence Féraud and André Brunel of Châteauneuf-du- Pape. Brunel is best known for Les Cailloux and Féraud is known for Pegau. Given their significant contacts in the southern Rhône Valley, their goal is to purchase wine from old, established, primarily Grenache vineyards. What sets this venture apart from other negociants is that it is run with the savoir-faire of truly exceptional winemakers working in perfect partnership. "