Robert Parker 93-95P
Still in foudres, the 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Reservee is even more impressive than it was last year. It's still firmly tannic, but the fruit seems to be growing in stature, adding volume and richness sufficient to round out the tannins. This full-bodied, concentrated wine offers hints of mocha and raspberries, but it seems a bit more monolithic than the 2015 at the moment.
At Pegau, Laurence Féraud greeted me with her seemingly permanent level-headed good nature. Every time I see her, she tells me how overwhelmed she is with work, and I marvel at her composure. These hot, early vintages must be tough on the estate in some ways, as the property doesn't have proper temperature controls for the reds. Still, they're extremely successful, so maybe technology is seriously overrated? After all, the 2016 Cuvée da Capo was vinified outdoors because the cellar was full. Féraud continues to believe in using whole clusters and longer-than-average élevage for her wines, and as she keeps the Cuvée Réservée in foudre for two summers, it's fascinating to see how the wines evolve, seeming to gain weight while at the same time smoothing out during their maturation. Féraud said she feels the 2015, 2016 and 2017 are all very different, but, she says, "I like the vintage differences. You work all year, you don't want the wines to all taste the same." For the first time, there are back-to-back vintages of the Cuvée da Capo (2015 and 2016), which means there will be a Cuvée Laurence in 2017. Recent releases of the Laurence, which spends four years in foudre, include the 2012 and 2013, both reviewed in this issue. Don't overlook the white wines, or the Côtes du Rhône bottlings under the Château Pegau label (reviewed separately).
Jeb Dunnuck 95-97P
A wine that’s going to rival or surpass the 2015, the 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Réservée shows the quality of this awesome vintage with its deep, powerful, concentrated style. While Laurence says her 2015s remind her of her 2010s, I find a certain 2010-like purity in this wine as well as killer notes of black raspberries, blueberries, garrigue, and pepper. Possessing both power and finesse, full body, sweet tannins, and a great finish, don’t miss this beauty.