By Robert Parker The F??raud family has run Domaine du P??ga?? for more than 150 years, but until 1990 it sold most of its wine in bulk to brokers. Now, under the leadership of Paul F??raud, the estate produces a robust, handcrafted Ch??teauneuf du Pape Cuv??e R??serv??e mainly from grenache.
F??raud follows traditional winemaking methods. The grapes, most of which are organic, are picked by hand and dumped into vats, stems and all. They're macerated for several weeks, then transferred to oak barrels called foudres. The wine is aged 18 months prior to bottling. Here are my tasting notes for most of the recent vintages of Domaine du P??ga?? Ch??teauneuf du Pape Cuv??e R??serv??e.
92-95+ points. On each of three occasions I tasted this wine, it scored superbly. It has huge tannins, high acidity, and muscular, full-bodied flavors, and all the aromas of roasted herbes de Provence, plus sweet licorice, blackberry, and kirsch notes. It needs four to eight more years of aging but should last two or more decades. $68-$87
94+ points. Dark plum/garnet in color, the 2004 has a big, sweet nose of kirsch, lavender, roasted herbs, and beef juices mixed with licorice and spice. It is full-bodied, rich, deep, and dense, with some tannins in the finish. I would opt for cellaring for three to four years, drinking over the next 15 to 20. $59-$80
98 points. The 2003 is magical. The dense plum/purple color is joined by flamboyant aromas and flavors of roasted meats, spicy herbs, pepper, blackberries, and cedar-tinged, kirsch-like fruit. Unctuously textured, with low acidity, high glycerin and alcohol (16+%), and a monster finish, it displays enormous concentration, silky tannin, and no hard edges. This remarkable wine is drinkable young, yet it should age effortlessly for two decades or more. $95-$150
95 points. This prodigious effort features a spectacular smorgasbord of aromas, including roasted meats, lavender, ground pepper, sweet blackberry, and brandy-macerated cherries. Full-bodied and dense, it has high levels of tannin and a huge finish. This could be the longest-lived Cuv??e R??serv??e since the 1989 and 1990 vintages, both of which are aging splendidly. $72-$80
95 points. The aromas in this wine remind me of an open-air Proven??al market. You get cr??me de cassis, kirsch, cedar, licorice, and pepper. It has fabulous fruit concentration, sweet tannin, and a long finish of 45 seconds or more. Enjoy it now or wait 10 or 15 years. $73-$85
Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.
Robert Parker is the world's most influential wine critic. Visit www.eRobertParker.com to see tens of thousands of tasting notes, buy his books, or subscribe to his newsletter, The Wine Advocate.