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1.3.04

Vinisud 2004: Minervois La Livinière / Pic Saint-Loup focus

Minervois-La Livinière was apparently recognised as a 'cru' village area within the Minervois appellation long before gaining official status in 1999, and, judging by the number of 90+ scores I've given to wines tasted at this year's Vinisud show, many of the wines prove the point. The appellation snuggles at the foot of the Montagne Noire hills around the village of La Livinière (and other neighbouring ones) roughly between Béziers and Carcassonne, and is for reds only. Once again Syrah (perhaps sometimes too much of it...), Grenache, Carignan, Cinsault and Mourvèdre are the main varieties, ranging from Clos des Roques majoring on 60 year old Carignan to Château Anger's super 100% Syrah wine La Chapelle de Calamiac. I'm not sure what Domaine de la Combe Blanche and Château la Croix Martelle - which is owned by Burgundian house Boisset and is experimenting with bio-dynamism - are up to with Pinot Noir, but their Minervois wines speak for themselves. Tasting notes / reviews on these producers' wines might follow, when I dig out that clunky old database copied from the original original WineWriting.com...

Pic Saint Loup is a subregion of the Coteaux du Languedoc appellation nestling on the garrigue (wild scrubland) about 20 km north of Montpellier. It's a good example of wines based on a distinctive 'terroir', I suppose, although it's the micro-climate and valley terrain (sandwiched between PSL itself and the Hortus cliff-face on the other side) here rather than soil that's particularly important), even if inevitably the winemaking styles vary from grower to grower (doh!). The Pic St-Loup name is only used for reds and rosés, and the grape varieties are Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Cinsault and Mourvèdre, with Syrah tending to dominate the best barrique-aged cuvées. Noticeably, there were a lot of young enthusiastic faces representing the Pic producers at the show. I think it's an exciting area to watch, although I did only taste wines from half a dozen properties and the prices are already quite high. They were: Domaines Haut-Lirou (one of the largest at 40 hectares), Mirabel (a mere 3 ha making 550 cases), Saint Daumary (started in 1999), Château l’Euzière, de Lavabre and Château Valcyre-Gaffinel. Three wines from another relatively youthful estate (1980) are also included - Domaine Faurmarie, which is actually located next door to Pic in a yet another new subzone of the CdL called Grés de Montpellier. Ditto regarding their wines... watch this space...

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