Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup Tour de Pierres 2016
Legends seem to converge at the Ermitage du Pic St-Loup. The hermitage dates back from the Middle Ages, as the former home of the bishops of Maguelone. The limestone peak or “pic” perched above the vineyards was named for the legendary Saint Thieri Loup, one of three pious, crusading, brothers and suitors to the beautiful Bertrade—after her untimely death, Loup became a hermit. In 1992, the Ravaille brothers (Xavier, Pierre, and Jean-Marc) joined forces to plant a vineyard in what has traditionally been land dominated by sheep farming and cheese production. The Ravaille family has been in the Languedoc for over one thousand years, long enough to have known Saint Loup personally. These brothers have been on a noble quest of their own to create serious wine that expresses the complexity of their terroir. The three fish on the label’s emblem therefore not only evoke the story of Saint Loup, but also their fraternal collaboration. Within the first few years, the Ravailles came to the conclusion that introducing biodynamic farming practices would allow them to make the wine they wanted. Though they have been using this methodology since 1999, as of 2012 vintage they are certified organic.
Amongst all of the Languedoc AOP zones, Pic Saint Loup claims to be the coolest and the wettest (though Limoux might dispute that); indeed Guilhem Viau suggests that its heat summation and rainfall figures are not far adrift of those of the Northern Rhône. Though the summers are typically very dry, cool nights and winter rainfall allow for long ripening of the grapes and sufficient water supply. The brothers keep their vinification as non-interventionist as possible. All of these special elements of their philosophy and methodology translate into wines with a purity of fruit, extraordinary delineation of layers, and a distinct sense of place. Many of the leading wines in Pic St Loup do indeed showcase Syrah in blends, and the Pic St Loup style of Syrah has a lift and purity to it which contrasts with the citrusy exoticism this variety can exhibit in warmer Languedoc locations like St Chinian. The Mediterranean and the placid Golfe du Lyon is only half an hour away, but the region in general has more of a continental than a maritime climate, with cold winters, warm summers and swift spring and autumn transitions. That, too, is a pattern that Syrah performs well in.
Pic St Loup is known for its limestone soils, since almost every vineyard is based on some form or other of pebbley limestone or finer textured limey marl. The best are beautifully drained, deep ‘gravette’ soils which stretch away in an alluvial fan or bench near the little Gardois village of Corconne, to the north of the appellation). The vineyards punctuate airy scrub and forest, profusely scented with thyme and rosemary.
|Appellation||Coteaux du Languedoc|
|Brand||Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup|
Bottle ShopThis is so utterly delicious and charming, it’s a pure joy to drink! Made by three brothers whose father raised sheep for the local Roquefort cheese producers, this is made of 50% Syrah, 35% Grenache and 15% Mourvedre. Juicy, intense red fruits dance on the palate with lilac, herbs de Provence and spices.