We've enjoyed plenty of interest and a good selection of reader-submitted tasting reports during this month's WineLovers Discussion Group Wine Focus on the red wines of the Languedoc, particularly the Coteaux du Languedoc sub-regions <b>Montpeyroux</b> and <b>Pic St. Loup</b>.
These bold, hearty and sometimes rustic blends of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and other Southern French varieties clearly place them as country cousins to their neighbors in the Southern Rhone. However, thanks to their relative obscurity and the pursuant lack of strong consumer demand, they remain relative bargains for those canny enough to seek them out.
When March roars in like a lion tomorrow, we'll shift the topic of the montly Wine Focus to Chenin Blanc from around the world, another somewhat overlooked and undervalued variety, a white grape that may reach its peak in the dry and sweet wines of the Loire Valley but that's also deservedly popular in regions from South Africa to Clarksburg in California's Sacramento Delta, not to mention spots in New Zealand and Australia.
Before February ends, though, let's wrap it up with a quick look at two more good-value Languedoc reds, one each from Pic St. Loup and Montpeyroux, both imported in the U.S. by the reliable Kermit Lynch.
If you'd like to comment, ask questions or share your tasting reports on the Languedoc <i>or</i> Chenin Blanc, you're invited to point your browser to Wine Focus,
<table border="0" align="right" width="145"><tr><td><img src="http://www.wineloverspage.com/graphics1/daup0226.jpg" border="1" align="right"></td></tr></table>Domaine d'Aupilhac 2004 Coteaux du Languedoc Montpeyroux ($17.99)
Very dark, unfiltered blackish-purple with a clear garnet edge. Fruit and earth, red plums and clay, fragrant black pepper and a whiff of "barnyard" come together in a somewhat rustic but bold and complex wine that clearly displays the Coteaux du Languedoc style. Juicy and bright, tart red fruit and snappy acidity; heavy, coarse-grained tannins contribute structure. It's impressive now if you don't mind the tannic astringency, but a couple of years might knock off some of the rough edges. It assembles just about all the region's varietal suspects: Mourvedre (30%), Carignan (30%), Syrah (25%), Grenache (10%) and Cinsaut (5%). U.S. importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif. (Feb. 26, 2007)
<B>FOOD MATCH:</b> The peppery, earthy flavors and tannic astringency of this sturdy red call for beef. Tt would work well with a sizzling rare steak from the grill, and was also fine with the more down-home charms of a long-cooked beef pot roast with onions, carrots and potatoes.
<B>VALUE:</B> As we've discovered during our month of Wine Focus on the Languedoc, even the region's top tier can often be found for $20 or less, and this fine value is no exception.
<B>WHEN TO DRINK:</B> "Tannin pigs" like me won't mind drinking it now with an appropriate food match or decanting with vigorous aeration followed by a few hours of "breathing." But as noted, a couple of years in the cellar are likely to provide more subtle pleasures as the tannins resolve.
<B>Montpeyroux</B> = "<I>MoN-pay-roo</I>"
The Domaine d'Aupilhac Website is particularly charming, framed as a diary by vigneron Sylvain Fadat, with plenty of information and photos. It's available in both French and English, each available by clicking the national flag.
<B>FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:</B>
Unfortunately, Wine-Searcher.com shows only limited resources for d'Aupilhac Montpeyroux:
I found it at Chambers Street Wines in NYC, which will ship in the U.S. where the law allows:
Also, check the importer's Website for a downloadable list of distributors in many states of the U.S.:
<table border="0" align="right" width="170"><tr><td><img src="http://www.wineloverspage.com/graphics1/ermi0212.jpg" border="1" align="right"></td></tr></table>Ermitage du Pic St. Loup 2004 Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint Loup ($12.99)
Dark garnet in color. Fragrant black pepper dominates the aroma, but there's simple, fresh red fruit to back it up. The same on the palate, pepper and tart red fruit, textured and "chewy," a bit rustic but very appealing, flavors nicely balanced with snappy acidity and soft tannins. A standard Pic St. Loup blend of Syrah (55%), Grenache (35%) and Mourvedre (10%), it's produced by the firm Ravaille Freres. U.S. importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif. (Feb. 12, 2007)
<B>FOOD MATCH:</b> The standard match is grilled red meat, but its peppery appeal also suggests bold Mediterranean fare; an Italian tradition from Abruzzo, bucatini all'Amatriciana, worked particularly well with its hearty mix of pancetta, tomatoes and a good shake of piquant dried red-pepper flakes over thick long pasta.
<B>VALUE:</B> There's a lot to like about a well-balanced (if relatively simple) Pic St. Loup in the lower teens.
<B>WHEN TO DRINK:</B> It's more of a drink-now wine than a cellar keeper, but I wouldn't hesitate to put one aside for a few years.
<B>FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:</B>
Check prices and locate vendors for Ermitage du Pic St. Loup on Wine-Searcher.com. (Take care, as returns may also include the more expensive "Saint Agnes" bottling from this producer:
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