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Chateau de Lancyre La Coste d'Aleyrac 2007
Syrah (50%) Grenache (40%) Carignan (10%)
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Pic Saint-Loup has justifiably garnered a reputation as the Languedoc's best wine district. Vineyards are 15 miles inland from the Mediterranean and are almost 2000 feet above sea level. Summer days are blazingly hot (103°F!), but night-time temperatures almost always drop to below 60°F - sometimes even below 50°F! Syrah (the principal grape in Pic Saint-Loup) is usually picked in early October, and not in late August, as it is in many Languedoc and Southern Rhône vineyards, so stylistically, the wines are closer to those of the Northern Rhône than their Southern Rhône counterparts (think Hermitage/Côte Rotie, not Châteauneuf-du-Pape).
Is Lancyre the top wine estate in the Languedoc? Probably not. But they are one of the best, and their wines sell for 1/3 to 1/2 of the price of wines from the top handful of Languedoc estates. Equally important are the facts that a wide range of wines are produced, and that they are produced in substantial enough quantities and are readily available in most markets. For savvy wine consumers, it doesn't get much better than this.
An extensive appellation producing a diverse selection of good-quality, value-priced wines, Languedoc-Roussillon is the world’s largest wine-producing region, spanning the Mediterranean coast from the Spanish border to Provence. Languedoc forms the eastern half of the larger appellation, while Roussillon is in the west; the two actually have quite distinct personalities but are typically grouped together. Languedoc’s terrain is generally flat coastal plains, with a warm Mediterranean climate and a frequent risk of drought. Roussillon, on the other hand, is defined by the rugged Pyrenees mountains and near-constant sunshine.
Virtually every style of wine is made in this expansive region. Dry wines are often blends, and varietal choice is strongly influenced by the neighboring Rhône valley. For reds and rosés, the primary grapes include Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre. White varieties include Grenache Blanc, Muscat, Ugni Blanc, Vermentino, Maccabéo, Clairette, Piquepoul and Bourbelenc. International varieties are also planted in large numbers here, in particular Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In Roussillon, excellent sweet wines are made from Muscat and Grenache in Rivesaltes, Banyuls and Maury. The key region for sparkling wines here is Limoux, where Blanquette de Limoux is believed to have been the first sparkling wine made in France, even before Champagne. Crémant de Limoux is produced in a more modern style.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to create complex wines with many different layers of flavors and aromas, or to create more balanced wines. For example, a variety that is soft and full-bodied may be combined with one that is lighter with naturally high acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.