Pic Saint Loup must be the most underrated appellation of the Languedoc, if not all of France. The wines are deep and chewy, yet fresh and lifted, vividly recalling wild fruit and Mediterranean herbs. La Roque makes powerful, complete wines that are relatively low in alcohol—the perfect complement to a holiday roast chez Lynch.
If you take a summer stroll on the slopes of the Pic Saint Loup, you may find wild grapevines climbing the rock here and there, providing a few bunches of grapes that are soon taken by the abundant wild boars and birds. Evidence shows that those wild grapes, native to the Pic since prehistoric times, were used by the first human inhabitants of the area, making our friends in Beaumes-de-Venise look like newcomers to the game. Perhaps it’s the horse-farmed, chemical-free vineyards, far from present-day pollutants, or perhaps it’s the minimalist winemaking and unfiltered bottling, but there is something timeless to La Roque’s Pic Saint Loup, its herbal bouquet and rich, fleshy texture, all free from any hint of modern trappings.
Anthony’s Pick Pic Saint Loup must be the most underrated appellation of the Languedoc, if not all of France. The wines are deep and chewy, yet fresh and lifted, vividly recalling wild fruit and Mediterranean herbs. La Roque makes powerful, complete wines that are relatively low in alcohol—the perfect complement to a holiday roast chez Lynch.
The picturesque landscape surrounding historic Château La Roque appears largely unchanged from how it must have been two thousand years ago. Ownership has changed hands many times since the Romans were first here, yet the soul of this special place remains in tact. Benedictine Monks created the sturdy vaulted-ceiling cellars that still house the bottles today. Winegrowing resumed in the 13th century when the de la Roque brothers planted new vines. Today, Château La Roque is in the capable hands of Cyriaque Rozier. This is unique terroir. Garrigue, the aromatic scrub brush that dominates the land, asserts its presence among the vines. In the wise words of KLWM salesperson/legend, Michael Butler, “Lay down a few cases of history.”
Ask wine drinkers around the world, and the word “Languedoc” is sure to elicit mixed reactions. On the one hand, the region is still strongly tied to its past as a producer of cheap, insipid bulk wine in the eyes of many consumers. On the other hand, it is the source of countless great values providing affordable everyday pleasure, with an increasing number of higher-end wines capable of rivaling the best from other parts of France.
While there’s no denying the Languedoc’s checkered history, the last two decades have seen a noticeable shift to fine wine, with an emphasis on terroir. Ambitious growers have sought out vineyard sites with poor, well draining soils in hilly zones, curbed back on irrigation and the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and looked to balance traditional production methods with technological advancements to craft wines with elegance, balance, and a clear sense of place. Today, the overall quality and variety of wines being made in the Languedoc is as high as ever.
Shaped like a crescent hugging the Mediterranean coast, the region boasts an enormous variety of soil types and microclimates depending on elevation, exposition, and relative distance from the coastline and the cooler foothills farther inland. While the warm Mediterranean climate is conducive to the production of reds, there are world-class whites and rosés to be found as well, along with stunning dessert wines revered by connoisseurs for centuries.
I want you to realize once and for all: Even the winemaker does not know what aging is going to do to a new vintage; Robert Parker does not know; I do not know. We all make educated (hopefully) guesses about what the future will bring, but guesses they are. And one of the pleasures of a wine cellar is the opportunity it provides for you to witness the evolution of your various selections. Living wines have ups and downs just as people do, periods of glory and dog days, too. If wine did not remind me of real life, I would not care about it so much.
Inspiring Thirst, page 171
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