Just hitting the market, the 2008 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Laurence is one of the candidates for the wine of the vintage. Copious aromas of charcuterie, smoked duck, Chinese hoisin sauce, kirsch, black currants and black tea jump from the glass of this dense, full-bodied, rich, concentrated, impressive wine. It should be close to full maturity when it is released given the quick evolution of the 2008s, and will last for 10-12 years.   As I have written many times in the past, Domaine du Pegau is well-known as one of the reference points for traditionally styled wines. One only has to spend a half hour or so talking with father Paul Feraud, or his ambitious and brilliant daughter, Laurence, to understand that they will not make any compromises, nor change their winemaking or upbringing styles to suit the whims of the fickle consumer. Paul, who is in incredible physical condition for his age (he still rides a motorcycle), was a schoolmate of Henri Bonneau. However, his parents were so poor that he was forced to drop out of school at age 14 to work in order to help the family. For that reason, he has always believed that debt is the greatest danger to the success of a small domaine. He is one of those rare individuals who basically pays cash for everything. I doubt that this philosophy has changed much since his daughter, Laurence, took control of the estate. She has added two negociant lines, the Selection Laurence Feraud and the Feraud-Brunel wines, but even with the introduction of several new cuvees (Cuvee da Capo since 1998 and the non-vintage Plan Pegau), this estate continues to go from strength to strength. This is another estate where the bottled wines often taste significantly better than they do from barrel. Let’s discuss the negociant wines first. Laurence Feraud, who has a large qualitative network throughout the southern Rhone, accesses some amazing fruit and finished wine, and then fashions blends that represent top-notch value. Laurence has purchased some additional hectares in Chateauneuf du Pape, which has pushed the size of the estate well past 50 acres. As mentioned before, she is a stickler for quality and these acquisitions have taken place in some of Chateauneuf du Pape’s finest terroirs, including La Crau, Le Grand Pierre (sandy soils are perfect for Grenache), Pignan, Relagnes, Bosquet, Clos St.-Jean and Monpertuis. We will not see any new blends probably until 2012, which was looking like another promising vintage for the southern Rhone at the time of writing (unless the rain of September 24, 2012 had a deleterious affect). Consumers should have a marvelous time comparing the 2009 and 2010 Cuvee Reservees with the 2007. One would have to go back to 1989 and 1990 to find two back-to-back vintages of similar majesty. I tasted two offerings of the Cuvee Laurence, which is made from a blend identical to the Cuvee Reservee, but is aged 36 months prior to bottling. Most of that time the wine is aged in foudre, but then is put into small, old oak barrels, but returned to foudres prior to bottling. The Cuvee Laurence is only made in certain vintages. The Cuvee da Capo selection usually comes primarily from old vines (100+-years-old), mostly Grenache, although the blend can contain about every authorized red varietal. Technically, it is all from the northeastern scorner of La Crau, oriented toward the village of Courthezon.