Chateau La Roque 2001 "Cupa Numismae" Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint Loup ($21.99)
A classic Pic Saint Loup that I've been following since the 1990 vintage, this Syrah-based Languedoc red is a very dark reddish-purple with a clear garnet edge. A bit of "burnt-match" reductiveness at first soon blows off to unveil fragrant Syrah black pepper and earthy red-fruit aromas, mirrored on the palate in balanced fruit and earth flavors, well structured by a firm acidic core, with soft tannins behind the fruit. Black cherries and a whiff of leather hang on in the finish. US Importer: ()

FOOD MATCH: Char-grilled red meat or poultry would be a natural, but its firm but complex flavors went well with a more offbeat dish created on the fly, a "risotto pizzaiolo" flavored with tomato sauce, crumbled sausage and Pecorino Romano cheese

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