One of my favorite producers in the Languedoc was always Pic Saint Loup's Chateau La Roque, back in the day when Jacques Boutin was the winemaker. For me, when I was discovering wines from my favorite region, La Roque was a great way to understand Mourvedre based wines, and in reality, were easily rivals to the great wines of Bandol, but at much lower prices. Thankfully, uber-importer, Kermit Lynch has been bringing in the wines from here since the 90's and quite honestly, I don't know of a more consistent producer in his stable that rivals La Roque for QPV (Quality, Price and Value) to this day.
What's more, the wines from Chateau La Roque age very gracefully, much like the L'Hortus reds do from just down the hill. Perhaps it's the altitude, or the stoney vineyards, but whatever it may be in the Pic, the reds just evolve into amazingly complex wines.
Take for example the 1999 Chateau La Roque which was a real delight. Black raspberry, blackberry, black cherry, tar, smoke and more. It was youthful, elegant, brilliant in color and delightful to drink.
The 1999 Chateau La Roque Coteaux du Languedoc Pic St. Loup is Grenache 60%, syrah 25%, mourvèdre 15%, a classic Pic St. Loup blend, and is the wine of choice with steak, especially the bone in, dry aged rib steaks, that cry out for big hearty reds. Here the red berry fruit of raspberry, black raspberry, cherry are intertwined with the herbs of the garrigue which season the vineyards.
But as great as the 1999 regular bottling tastes, it is the 1999 Chateau La Roque Coteaux du Languedoc Pic St. Loup Cupa Numismae, a perfect blend of Mourvedre and Syrah that wins hands down. Combining the best of the two minus Grenache, the Cupa Numismae has the stoney soil and long extracted fruit in pefect harmony. The wine shows off the same black raspberry, blackberry, black cherry, tar and smoke as the 100 percent Mourvedre, but the 40% blending in of Syrah gives it a chewy blueberry and black pepper flavor that makes it just stick out and be noticed.
Sadly, Jacques Boutin is no longer the winemaker, and his assistant has also moved on to operate Domaine Montcalmes, perhaps one of the region's less heralded, and for the most part, an undiscovered gem. That's okay, there's plenty of older, nicely aged La Roque's here for the tasting.