Walking a fine line in Châteauneuf du Pape between elegance and rusticity is a tall task, but Domaine Pégau embodies the precision of this balance like none other. Their progression over the last 10 years to highlight a more lifted style while still maintaining a sense of opulence is a hot topic for lovers of the Southern Rhone Valley. While the estate produces several cuvées, hitting over $400 per bottle, it's their benchmark Cuvée Réservée that fulfills the best value and also provides the very sharpest focus on this fabled terroir.

Laurence Féraud works with her father Paul in carrying on a steep tradition that was started by their ancestors in 1607. Laurence focuses on the cellar, and Paul is dialed into the vineyards. The backbone of the estate is their old Grenache plantings dating back to 1907 in the famed La Crau vineyard,where limestone mother rock sits below the iconic, round galet river stones.

Pégau is unapologetic about their traditional approach in the cellar, and never succumbed to pressures in the era of 100-point scores to alter methods. Whole clusters are used for vinification and wines are aged in large foudres crafted 90 years ago. Both elements are crucial in preserving a sense of vibrancy in their Grenache-dominant blends, ones that otherwise could easily show stewed fruit and oaky notes that regrettably mark so many of the appellation's wines today. The Reservée has always been the prime CdP for value, but Laurence's recent move to raise the Grenache and lower the Syrah percentage in the blend has done wonders for it's clarity and persistence. 

Licorice, dark fruits, woodsmoke, game, and wild garrigue are hallmarks of every bottle of CdP. Pégau captures these notes with an impressive mineral streak and fine-grained tannins that stand out from the pack. A rack of lamb alongside Pégau has developed into one of my ultimate pleasures.

Truth be told, it was the Southern Rhone that originally pulled me into France way back when I was finishing college, as fascination with wine seemingly expanded daily. Today it's rare that I pull bottles from the region with much regularity. So much of that has to do with producer's chase of power with eyes on points. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to be able to rely on a select group that still produce wines they love to drink, and wines their families before them would be proud of today. Pégau is everything that's sacred about tradition, and should be celebrated as often as possible.

2013 Domaine Du Pegau Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée Réservé
$59 per bottle.

2014 Domaine Du Pegau Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée Réservé
$59 per bottle.

Special Mixed 6-Pack (3 of each vintage)
Regularly $354, Down to $336!

Also available:

2001 Domaine Du Pegau Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée Réservé
$134 per bottle.