How many of you have ever heard of Pic St. Loup? Not many, that’s what I figured! In fact, from the Languedoc region, it seems that consumers are much more acquainted with Minervois, Corbières, St. Chinian, Picpoul de Pinet and Faugères, which are some of the most exported and thus reputed appellations of the Languedoc.
If one look at a wine map, however, he (or her) will realize that Languedoc encompasses a lot more sub-wine regions and appellations than the few cited above.
If we start with Collioure and Banyuls down in the French Catalan region, toping the northeastern part of Spain, and if we follow a curve going upward then eastward towards Nîmes, we have all the following appellations:
- Côtes du Roussillon,
- Côtes du Roussillon Villages,
- Maury Fitou,
- Blanquette de Limoux,
- Côtes de Maelpère,
- Cabardès Minervois,
- Muscat de saint-Jean-de-Minervois,
- Coteaux du Languedoc,
- Muscat de Frontignan,
- Muscat de Mireval,
- Muscat de Lunel,
- Costières de Nîmes,
- Clairette de Bellegarde,
Among these 18 Appellations and regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea from Spain to the Rhône River, 1 of them, comprised between Montpellier to the east and Béziers to the southwest and Saint-Pons to the west, encompasses 15 more specific Appellations, also known as “Cru(s) des Côteaux du Languedoc”.
From north to southwest within the Hérault department (or district), with already 6 appellations (or should I say "Crus") surrounding the department’s capital town of Montpellier, one will find the following Cru(s) comprised within the Coteaux du Languedoc:
- Coteaux de Véragues
- Côteaux de la Méjanelle
- Saint-Georges d’Orques
- Picpoul de Pinet
- Saint Saturnin
- Clairette du Languedoc
- Cabrières Faugères
With an elevation of 658 meters (2,159 ft), Pic Saint-Loup is a little mountain in the Languedoc, located near the communes of Cazevielle overlooking a little valley with the village Saint-Mathieu-de-Tréviers in the Hérault département (district), about 28 kms north of Montpellier.
Pic Saint-Loup gave its name to the appellation of the same name that roughly extend from the northern border of the town of Montpellier going toward the north up above the Pic Saint-Loup and its facing counterpart “le Causse de l’Hortus” (512meters).
Along the roughly 30 kilometers length of the appellation, from north to south, the diversity of the landscape and type of soils is mindboggling, going from mountains and slopes at the foothills of the Cévennes National park to the gentle rolling hills bordering Montpellier.
Pic Saint-Loup has been experiencing a renaissance over the past 10 years and most vines are at least 25-30years old in average. After the last 30 years of restructuration of the vineyards and replanting of more appropriate and adapted varieties, Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre are now the predominant grape varieties. Blended they produce great, medium to full bodied wines expressing floral, mineral and wild berries aromas and flavors with earthy notes of Garrigues and Terroir influenced characteristics.
Grenache was massively replanted in the 80s and now represents the backbone of the wines and the memory of the vines, bringing richness, depth and roundness. Syrah brings color, fruit, aromas and texture. Mouvèdre brings strength, excellent tannic structure and ageing potential. The resulting wines are usually quite full bodied, rich and powerful, yet well-rounded and balanced, with ripe fruit, earthy notes and present yet integrated tannins.
Located in the village of Fontanès, approximately 20-25 kms north of Montpellier and a few kilometers east of the Pic Saint-Loup itself, in the heart of the appellation, Château La Roque is one of the leading wineries of this beautiful mountainous region. A 41-hectares estate, with a distinctive lilac-shuttered white Château, which was in fact an 8th century post house, enlarged through the centuries. Today, its vaulted tasting room and emblematic medieval “pigeonnier” (old pigeon house) bear witness to its rich history. Vines’ growing on the Domaine goes back to 1259, when two gentlemen, brothers Jean and Guilhaume de La Roque, started to grow vine on the slopes of the hills, which protect the estate to the north.
Château La Roque stretches on 80 hectares all in one block, of which 32 hectares are planted in vines. On clay and limestone scree, the south / south-east facing terraced vineyard forms an amphitheatre, in majestuous yet wild background hills, made of several distinct "clos" encircled by Garrigues (wild bushes and small trees, plants and herbs characteristic of the south of France and the Mediterranean basin).
The reds are produced from Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache, while the whites are based on Viognier, Rolle, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Marsanne.
2005 La Roque Pic St Loup Côteaux du Languedoc France
Suggested retail price $16-$19
Imported by Kermit Lynch / Distributed by Ibanez Pleven
Vinification is done in traditional or tapered vats at controlled temperature. Maceration lasts about 40 days before racking. After maturing for 4 to 12 months, the red wine is estate-bottled without filtration. A blend of roughly 60% Grenache, 25% Syrah and 15% Mourvèdre, the 2005 shows ripe red berries and dark fruits on the nose, with earthy and spicy notes. Terroir oriented, the palate is quite savory and warm with good density and structure. It is well rounded, fruity and really inviting, with a very good balance and a lingering finish. Pair it with Mediterranean food and game, grilled meats, roasted pigeon with figs or boneless rib steak.
LeDom du Vin
Info partly taken from the winery website at www.chateau-laroque.eu
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