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 Chateauneuf-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.
Pic Saint-Loup is defined by the Pic Saint-Loup Mountain in its center as well as Montagne de l’Hortus, a long ridge of Jurassic limestone rising over 2,000 feet some 15 miles inland from the Mediterranean. Elevated from the coastal plains, Pic Saint-Loup’s 1,000 hectares of vineyards on well-drained, limestone-based soils, are blessed with cooler nights, allowing low yields and grapes to fully ripen while retaining acidity. The region supports many different grape varieties since it is spread over a number of elevations and microclimates.
Approved only for reds and rosés, Pic Saint-Loup wines aim for complex, earthy elegance, and are worth putting down for a few years. The southern French trio Grenache, Syrah and Mourvédre must constitute 90% of the red blends. Cherry, plum and berry fruit pick up spicy, herbal overtones from the surrounding garrigue, giving the wines a great balance of power and delicacy. Pic St Loup rosés, often containing a good dollop of Mourvédre, show more grip and color than many southern French pinks; the best ones can age with grace for five years or more.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre form the base of the classic Rhône Red Blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. Though they originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley, with some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in other countries. Somm Secret—Putting their own local spin on the Rhône Red Blend, those from Priorat often include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.