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. US Importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif. (Feb 12, 2007)

FOOD MATCH: 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.

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