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2020 Pic Saint Loup “Tour de Pierres”

Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup
Discount Eligible $23.00
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When I conjure up the southern French red of my dreams, or the idea of perhaps making my own one day, inspired by years of tasting my way through the Mediterranean basin, the following is what gets my mouth watering.
     First, I would set out to make a nuanced blend using a combination of grape varieties, each lending its own bit of personality. Sun-loving Grenache would certainly feature, as well as a more dense, tannic grape like Mourvèdre, the perfect complement to the former’s plush, warm textures. Syrah could also serve this role, with the stipulation that it come from a cooler site to preserve its freshness—higher-elevation or north-facing vineyards would make this possible.
     My terroir of choice is a poor, rocky hillside, perhaps limestone, where the vines would struggle for sustenance, drawing finesse and minerality from deep in the subsoil. Finally, I would choose a natural vinification, with some whole clusters for a lively tension, and traditional aging in large, neutral wood vessels that allow the wine to fully express itself. My rouge would be unfiltered, of course, and I’d price it to encourage frequent enjoyment.
     Well, if only I’d been born a Ravaille brother. The three brothers at Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup bottle exactly the wine I just described. They farm their steep, rugged vineyards biodynamically in the Languedoc’s coolest, northernmost appellation, where Syrah, Grenache, and a few other cépages convey a perfect duality of plump Mediterranean richness and savory, floral tones recalling more northerly wines. Chewy, vigorous, and refreshing, with notes of black olive, wild herbs, and brambly fruit, the Ravailles’ Tour de Pierres cuvée really does check all the boxes.

Anthony Lynch


Technical Information
Wine Type: red
Vintage: 2020
Bottle Size: 750mL
Blend: 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre
Appellation: Pic Saint Loup
Country: France
Region: Languedoc-Roussillon
Producer: Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup
Winemaker: Xavier, Pierre, and Jean-Marc Ravaille
Vineyard: 30 - 40 years, 20 ha
Soil: Red Clay, Limestone
Aging: Aged in foudres and barriques for 12 months
Farming: Biodynamic (practicing)
Alcohol: 13.5%

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About The Region

Languedoc-Roussillon

map of Languedoc-Roussillon

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.

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Inspiring Thirst

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