The other night I promised myself just an apéro at Spring Boutique with Josh and my friends D and C. But then the arrival of Josh's excellent friend T prompted us to have a further bottle of Riesling. Then, no sooner had we unscrewed the cap of said Riesling than in strode the snazzily-bespectacled wine agent Sylvie Chameroy, with Blandine Chauchat, of Mas Foulaquier, and a truly dizzying array of biodynamic Pic-Saint Loup samples.
I start with good intentions and I wind up with red teeth.
Pic-Saint Loup itself is a Languedoc appellation named for one of the two principal mountains in the area. As you might expect, this being the Languedoc, the reds are where the real interest lies, particularly because Pic-Saint Loup has a reputation for being just slightly cooler than the rest of the region. I'll confess that this temperature difference is mostly lost on me; the wines, usually blends in which the flashier Grenache is supported by more bass-heavy Carignan and Mourvedre, are often real Monster Trucks. (This is my own foible speaking: I just don't dig rich reds too often, except on certain winter nights, after certain meals, with a certain cigar, etc.)
This doesn't hurt the wines one bit in the marketplace, of course. And I remain curious, particularly about the more forward-thinking domaines in the region, of which Mas Foulaquier is a fine example. The certified-biodynamic estate was founded in 1998 by the Swiss architect Pierre Jéquier; later, in 2003, Blandine Chauchot joined the winemaking team, bring along 3 hectares of her own nearby vineyard holdings. It was this coming-together-like-Voltron*, she explained to me, that caused Mas Foulaquier to wind up with no less than 8 different cuvées, all based on the same grapes in different proportions, deriving from microclimatically different vineyards.
We tasted 7 that evening. If tannins were cholesterol, I'd have needed a quadruple bypass by the end of it.
Still. The wines were mighty fine, if not altogether my style. Lush, structured, and uniformly professional feeling, they'd make perfect entry points into biodynamic viticulture, particularly for skeptics who claim to find "natural" wines too gritty.** For me the clear winner was a cuvée called "Le Petit Duc," from 2008, the only one of the bunch made from 100% Grenache.
When I mentioned preferring it, Blandine explained that it derived from a particular limestone parcel, and was only made in cooler vintages. (Aha! Perhaps it's not always lost on me.) What struck me about "Le Petit Duc" was a bracing vivacious jolt of acidity just at the finish, or slightly after, even, like a corona or a coda to the roasty dark chocolate and red-fruit palate. It was like a mid-eighties jangle pop tune that, just when you think it's ended, explodes into a glorious closing refrain: (occurs at roughly 3:50)
The impromptu Pic-Saint Loup tasting wasn't even the last surprise of the evening. A server from Spring popped over at one point and informed us they had an extra table for 4 that night; she wondered if we'd be interested in dinner?
Having explained in a previous post my reasons for not submitting for the customary three month wait for a Spring reservation, I winced for the sake of my wallet, and said what the hell. But that's a whole other post.
**My awesome landlady and her husband, for instance. Don't raise my rent, guys; I'm just teasing you.
52, rue de l'Arbre Sec
Tel: 01 45 96 05 72
Route des Embruscalles
Tel: 04 67 59 96 94
Fall Wine Preview at Spring Boutique
José Peña Sardine Tasting at Spring Boutique
A good Pic-Saint Loup overview @ WineAnorak
Rosemary George's Pic-Saint Loup overview @ Wine-Pages