Domaine de l’Hortus, Grande Cuvee, AOC/AOP Coteaux de Languedoc Pic-Saint-Loup, Herault, France, 2008
The nomenclature of the Pic-Saint-Loup appellation changed in 2007 to AOC/AOP Languedoc Pic-Saint-Loup. There is a long standing application for AOC/AOP Pic Saint Loup. It lies about 18kms to the north of Montpelier, and 30kms from the sea, at an altitude of about 150m, under the foothills of the Cevennes. This altitude gives a diurnal range with cooler nighttime temperatures, with higher than average rainfall relative to lower down in the coastal plain to the south. Soils are limestone based with clay, aka argilo-calcaire, or marl. Authorised wines are AOC/AOP red (GSM, plus minorities of cinsault and carignan), VdP/IGP white (bourboulenc, chardonnay, clairette, grenache blanc, marsanne, roussanne, sauvignon blanc, viognier …) and AOC/AOP rose (same varieties as for red). With little argument, the top producer of Pic St Loup is regarded as Domaine de l’Hortus.
This wine: last tasted in May 2016; a blend of syrah, mourvedre and grenache, aged in 60% new French oak for 12 months, natural cork closure, 13% abv, BBR £15.70, their last 3 bottles (2016)
Consumer tasting note: a strong nose of smoky-warm black liquorice leads into ripe black cherry edged with vanilla and low-key toast, then fragrant dried red pepper, with a touch of pine; medium bodied, with a palate of ripe black berries, edged with red cherry jam and smoky dried red pepper. Finishes long. Decant for 30-60 minutes.
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, deep intensity ruby, showing tears.
Nose: clean, pronounced intensity, developing, with aromas as they come, of creamy-vanilla, slightly high-toned black cherry, ripe black berry, warm black liquorice, low-key toast, smoky, warm beeswax, touch of pine, black cherry jam, dried red pepper.
Palate: dry, medium acidity, medium ripe tannins, medium (+) alcohol, medium body, a smooth texture, medium (+) intensity, with flavours of ripe black cherry, black berry, red cherry jam, cold stewed red berries, touch of smoke, dried red pepper. A long length, with a clean dried red berry edged with black cherry and black liquorice finish.
Quality: very good, perfectly balanced acidity with alcohol, harmonious overall, showing well-integrated oak with a residual vanilla note adding to moderate complexity from ageing in wood and bottle, with toast-smoky edges and dried pepper respectively, along with an interesting touch of pine; good intensity throughout, with similar flavour concentration, leading to a long clean finish.
Readiness for drinking/ageing potential: drink now, unsuited to further ageing, well-developed now, will keep for 2-3 years, but not improve appreciably.