La Grange de Thieri, AOP Pic Saint-Loup, Hérault, Languedoc (now Occitanie), France, 2016
On AOC Pic Saint Loup
The Languedoc crus, of which AOC Pic Saint Loup is a member since September 2016, occupies the peak of a three-tiered quality pyramid for the Languedoc. Immediately below the crus are the grands vins, and in the basement, the generic Languedoc appellation. The other four Languedoc crus are AOC Corbieres-Boutenac, AOC La Clape, AOC Minervois-La Liviniere and AOC Terrasses du Larzac. Pic Saint Loup is a red and pink wine appellation.
The Pic, of Pic Saint Loup, is a spectacular limestone mountain in the Hérault, with an elevation of 660 metres. This, together with the Montagne de l’Hortus (512 metres) on the opposite side of the valley just to the north, dominate the landscape. The vineyard, 25 km N/S by 10 km E/W, stretches inland from the outskirts of Montpelier, to about 30 kms, on a rising elevation to about 150 metres, with limestone rich soils of clayey-limestone, aka marl – a mixture of 30-60% clay and 60-30% limestone, dolomite and gravel. The climate bakes under the Mediterranean sun in summer, with day time temperatures mitigated slightly by elevation, but also aspect. During the night, cool breezes off the Cevennes mountains just to the north increase the diurnal variation and help to preserve acidity. Rainfall is low and the winters mild.
Principal varieties are syrah, grenache noir and mourvedre, two of which must be in the final blend, and which, 2 or 3 together, must constitute >= 90% of a red blend, with >= 50% syrah. Carignan and cinsaut are secondary varieties.
Perhaps the most well-known producer is Domaine de l’Hortus, of which several cuvees have been evaluated here.
This wine: lot No. L17/140, a blend of syrah and grenache noir, coated natural cork closure, 13.5% abv, Les Caveaux d’Ensérune, Capestang, €12.90 (05/18)
Consumer tasting note: ruby hued with aromas of stewed red cherry and black cherry jam, a little spicy with a touch of cumin, cedar, black olive and black liquorice; medium-full bodied, showing well-integrated oak with flavours of ripe black cherry and black berry, along with warm black liquorice. Finishes medium-long. Decant for 30 minutes.
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, medium intensity ruby, showing tears [no sediment].
Nose: clean, medium (+) intensity, developing, with aromas as they come, of stewed red cherry edged with black berry, a very slight high-toned edge, spice – a hint of cumin, dried herbs, beeswax, black cherry jam, hints of cedar and sweet oak, black olive, black liquorice, and after some time the merest whiff of toast, then leaf humus, and finally a whiff of vanilla.
Palate: dry, medium (+) acidity, ripe medium (+) tannins, medium (+) alcohol, medium (+) body, medium (+) intensity, with flavours of ripe black cherry, squashed black berry, black liquorice, hint of sweet oak. A medium (+) length, with a clean spicy stewed red fruit edged with black liquorice finish.
Quality: very good, well-balanced fresh(ish) acidity and ripe tannins with alcohol, altogether suiting the flavour intensity and concentration; showing moderate complexity with evidence of time in well-integrated wood and bottle age, with just a touch of tertiary development, witnessed by the notes of beeswax, dried herbs and leaf humus; a sound intensity throughout, with slightly lesser concentration, leading into a medium-long length.
Drinking readiness/ageing potential: drink now, unsuited to further ageing, but will keep for 2-3 years – a sound structure and balance, showing some tertiary development, but without the markers to warrant laying down space.