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A Fireside Trip to Pic Saint-Loup

As I popped open a bottle of wine from the south of France the other evening, I imagined myself basking in the Mediterranean climate as opposed to the deep freeze that I was experiencing. And after a few sips of wine, I was magically transported to Pic Saint-Loup.

Pic Saint-Loup is a sub-appellation of the Languedoc appellation and is located in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France.

Although the Languedoc makes red, white and rosé wines, Pic Saint-Loup only makes red and rosé wine, mainly from Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Located only 18 miles from the southern French coast, Pic Saint-Loup appellation enjoys a Mediterranean climate with hot summers, mild winters and low rainfall. It also benefits from the proximity of the Pic Saint-Loup mountain and the Montagne de L’Hortus both of which contribute Jurassic limestone soils and bring a continental influence to the area with cool nights and an increased diurnal temperature range. The Jurassic limestone soils and diurnal temperatures are key in the development of the grapes here, helping to retain balanced acidity and sugars.

Photo credit: Chateau La Roque

Pic Saint-Loup appellation is about 1500 hectares with approximately 1000 hectares of planted vines at varying elevations.  For instance, Mourvedre likes to grow in warm dry climates and is planted in lower vineyards, whereas Syrah prefers the higher elevations, benefiting from the cooler nights.
Château La Roque is located in the Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint-Loup. Its origins date back to 1259 when two brothers Jean and Guilhaume de La Roque purchased the property and planted vineyards.  However, prior to the brothers arriving, it is said that the Romans were the first to plant vines over 2000 years ago. By the 15th century, the La Roque family was making wines commercially. La Roque has 80 hectares of which 32 hectares are terraced vineyards. In addition to the limestone and clay soil, Garrigue, an aromatic scrub brush dominates the landscape and contributes its essence to the vines.
Sylviane and Bertrand Barascud purchased the estate in 2015 postdating the bottle of wine that I opened. However, the winemaker, Cyriaque Rozier, who worked for the previous owner, Jacque Boutin has stayed on with the Barascuds.

Château La Roque Languedoc Pic Saint Loup Rouge “Cuvée Les Vielles Vignes de Mourvedre 2011
This is a beautiful blend of 70% Mourvedre, 20% Syrah and 10% Grenache.  The grapes are hand harvested from 50 to 60-year-old vines and fermented in cement tanks. The wine is aged for 18 months in 600-liter oak barrels (2, 3, 4 and 5 years) and then aged in bottle for 6 months before release.

The color is dark ruby with succulent aromas of dark berries, plum, spice and violet with the palate offering blueberry, black cherry, fennel, earth, pepper and hints of vanilla. The finish is lengthy with traces of chocolate and pepper lingering. This is a full-bodied wine with a perfect marriage of tannins and acidity. I would love to taste this again in a year or so. Serve with grilled or braised game & meats, stews, hearty soups and assorted cheese.
Alcohol:  13.5%
Perhaps the next time I have the opportunity to sip Pic Saint-Loup wine, I’ll be gazing at the Montagne de L’Hortus and not at the logs burning in my fireplace!



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