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2013 Château de Lancyre, Coste d'Aleyrac Pic St-Loup, Coteaux du Languedoc
Between the Cevennes and Mont Ventoux, located just to the north of Montpellier, Pic Saint-Loup is one of the most famous and scenic of all of the Languedoc enclaves. The dramatic limestone escarpments, including the eponymous ‘peak’, provide a memorable back-drop to a number of excellent wine properties, of which Château de Lancyre is one of the very best.
The only mystery remaining, grosso modo, is why Pic Saint-Loup has not yet been granted an independent Appellation Contrôlée status…The answer, it seems, lies in bureaucracy more rather than intrinsic wine quality ...indeed the enclave has no shortage of quality and it wines all have impressive individuality allied to great aromatic persistence and structural power.
Regis Valentin and Bernard Durand have done great things at Château Lancyre to prove this very point.
The vast majority of wines from the Southern Rhône are blends. There are 5 main black varieties, although others are used and the most famous wine of the region, Châteauneuf du Pape, can be made from as many as 13 different varieties. Grenache is the most important grape in the southern Rhône - it contributes alcohol, warmth and gentle juicy fruit and is an ideal base wine in the blend. Plantings of Syrah in the southern Rhône have risen dramatically in the last decade and it is an increasingly important component in blends. It rarely attains the heights that it does in the North but adds colour, backbone, tannins and soft ripe fruit to the blend.
The much-maligned Carignan has been on the retreat recently but is still included in many blends - the best old vines can add colour, body and spicy fruits. Cinsault is also backtracking but, if yields are restricted, can produce moderately well-coloured wines adding pleasant-light fruit to red and rosé blends. Finally, Mourvèdre, a grape from Bandol on the Mediterranean coast, has recently become an increasingly significant component of Southern Rhône blends - it often struggles to ripen fully but can add acidity, ripe spicy berry fruits and hints of tobacco to blends.
Pic Saint-Loup in Côteaux du Languedoc is evocatively and accurately named, with steep limestone escarpments stark in the Mediterranean sunshine of the hilly uplands to the north of Montpellier. Pic St Loup produces some of the finest wines in the Languedoc.
To qualify as a Pic Saint-Loup a wine must contain Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre, a bold initiative and thus far a successful one with some truly outstanding domaines such as Lascaux and Cazeneuve producing some of the very best wines in the region.
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