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Pic St-Loup: regional profile plus the 12 wines worth seeking out

Dominated by the tilted limestone block of Pic St-Loup itself, this appellation on the cooler, wetter eastern side of the Languedoc AP region is noted for its fresh and fragrant wines, with Syrah the star. Andrew Jefford charts its progress and predicts a bright future,

A long march, a novel, a saga: there are many analogies for the slow emergence and differentiation over the past 40 years of Languedoc’s appellations.

Why slow? Geography, in a word. In contrast to regions such as Burgundy or the Rhône, Languedoc’s appellations unfold east to west, not north to south.

That means that there are no clear climatic contrasts of the sort that distinguish Chablis from the Mâconnais, or Côte-Rôtie from Châteauneuf-du-Pape. All lie in ‘the Mediterranean zone’ – so differences between them in soil, climate and performance are a matter of nuance. With every year that passes, though, those nuances acquire more light and shade, and the personality of each appellation can be perceived more clearly.

Scroll down for Andrew Jefford’s Pic St-Loup tasting notes and scores

None, I would argue, more clearly than Pic St-Loup. Lean, clean, fragrant, vital and fresh: it’s the track athlete of the Languedoc.

Its wines are less rich, fruity and opulent than those of Minervois, La Clape or the limestone zones of St-Chinian. It has more homogeneity of terroir and hence style than the equally concentrated Terrasses du Larzac; it is less stony-sweet than Faugères or the schist zones of St-Chinian; but it’s also more distinctively Mediterranean and garrigue-scented than Cabardès or Malepère.

If Hermitage or Cornas could be said to have an authentic southern echo in the Languedoc, it would be somewhere in the beautifully lit stone fields that swirl and skirt the Pic.

See Andrew Jefford’s pick of 12 Pic St-Loup wines worth seeking out

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