For the fourth time, the Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee da Capo has been produced, and for the fourth time, it has received a perfect score although I might back off the 2000's perfect score based on the fact that it seems to be more of an upper-ninety point wine than pure perfection these days. The 2007 may come closest in style to the 1998, the debut vintage, although the tannins are sweeter and the wine is perhaps fatter and richer in the mouth. The alcohols in these cuvees can be very high, ranging from 16.1% in 2003, 15.8% in 2000, 16.3% in 1998, to 15.5% (the lowest ever) in 2007. An inky/purple color is followed by aromas of smoked meats, Peking duck, licorice, lavender, aged beef, grilled steak blood, black currants, plums, sauteed cepes and soy. Enormously concentrated, broad, expansive and massive but not over the top, this is a tour de force in winemaking that is impossible to imagine unless one has a bottle to work through over the course of 4 to 5 hours. Although they advertise using all 13 authorized varietals, this wine is over 90% Grenache, largely from the famed La Crau section of Chateauneuf du Pape. They do have other vineyards from which they pull some of the fruit that goes into the Cuvee da Capo, including St.-Jean, Esquilons and occasionally Monpertuis. The 2007 seems to be broader, fatter, more unctuously textured and more flattering to drink at this stage than the 1998 was. In that sense, the evolutionary development may resemble their 2003s. The 2007 was bottled in February, 2010, and my anticipated drinking dates are 2014-2030+.
A deeper, richer version of the Cuvee Reservee, the 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee da Capo is one of the more youthful, concentrated wines of the vintage. Coming primarily from the la Crau lieu-dit and over 90% Grenache, aged in an old foudre, its deep ruby color is followed by a bonafide smorgasbord of Provencal aromas and flavors of garrigue, cured meats, incense, beef blood, black currants and pepper. While a full-bodied, incredibly concentrated, rich and unctuous wine, it carries its wealth of fruit and mid-palate density with incredible elegance and purity, with a seamless texture, no hard edges and a finish that won't quit. The 2007 is more elegant and seamless than both the 1998 and 2003, with an incredible sweetness of tannin. Nevertheless, it still needs another 2-4 years of bottle age and will blow your mind over the following 10-15 years.
The 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee da Capo (the first made since 2003) is a whopper! Slightly less potent alcohol-wise than the 1998 or 2003, Laurence Feraud compares it to the 2000. With just under 16% natural alcohol, it exhibits a dense purple color along with a big, sweet kiss of charcoal, grilled steaks, beef blood, plums, blackberries, smoked herbs, kirsch, and black currants, fabulous concentration, enormous body, and a finish that lasts over a minute. There is a freshness and vibrancy because of the vintage's crisp acid levels, and the wine should age well for 30+ years. Laurence told me the Capo will be bottled in February, 2010.
In 2007, there will also be a Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee da Capo produced, emanating from the appellation's well-known sector known as La Crau. This cuvee resembles the 1998 Capo more than either the 2000 or 2003 Capos. From 80-year-old vines, the 2007 tips the scales at 15.8% alcohol, which is .5% less than the 1998, .3% less than the 2003, and is identical to the 2000. The wine's intense, deep plum/ruby/garnet color is followed by a stunning perfume of smoked herbs, grilled meats, blood, figs, plums, blackberries, and kirsch. This big-boned, highly-structured effort possesses enormous concentration, great sucrosite and glycerin, and a heady, long finish. It will be a stunner. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2035. The inimitable Feraud family, true guardians of the most traditional style of Provence and several Rhone appellations, is increasingly spearheaded by daughter Laurence, but her charismatic father, Paul, is always on the scene, with her mother, running the office. While Pegau's expanding production should be carefully watched, the talent is certainly there. Forgetting the estate wines, there are three levels of quality and price, including a new Tetra Pak in a liter package that is quite good. There are also the Selection Laurence Feraud, a negociant line of wines, and a second negociant line-up sold under the moniker Feraud-Brunel, which Laurence oversees along with Andre Brunel. 2007 is an undeniably great vintage for the Feraud wines.