“The Incomparable” Part III

Hello again fans of greatness,

As I set out today to once again open the gates on another of Peter Weygandt’s staggering vinous treasures, I reflect back over a glass I enjoyed last evening.  It had been a long day for yours truly and the usual drudgery of my 10+ hour day had left me gazing at the tube, vinously unsatisfied by my selections of the night.  I knew it was late, but my taste-buds required attention.  Another glass of Pinot just wasn’t going to satiate this time.

And there she sat, the temptress that would be my inspiration for these pages today.  A wine that so profoundly outshines any other wine I’ve experienced from its appellation that even the recently arrived newsletter in hand last evening from Kermit was left, barely read.  A wine from the Coteaux-du-Languedoc that quite frankly is the Greta Garbo, the Cary Grant of its region; a wine that stands as the leading example for all others to look to.  A wine so fantastically dynamic that I have never witnessed another that shined so bright.

This is a region that I have travelled extensively since my early days as an importer in the 1990s.  I know these roads well, having stayed in many quaint towns, tasting hundreds of wines through many vintages spanning towns from Nimes to Collioure.  My personal photo albums bust from their seams to include evidence of my time in these hills and valleys.  In short, I know from these wines; these are part of my passion for the wines of France.

The Coteaux-du-Languedoc today is a fascinating and rapidly evolving maze of sub-zones and exotic terroirs.  It is particularly intriguing for this wine buff as it resembles in some ways the beginning days of the Burgundy classification system.  To explain, let’s consider things thus: first we have what we might call the Coteaux-du-Languedoc’s equivalent of modern day “base Burgundy / Bourgogne”; the basic wines most encounter and that are very simply labelled as Coteaux-du-Languedoc.

Then we begin to move quickly up the quality scale as we find some half dozen or so “Crus” of the Coteaux-du-Languedoc appellation that could be considered the “1er Crus”, if you’ll allow me the latitude.  These 7 sub-regions very often find their names on the labels from the better producers and include many names I’ve offered in these pages in past letters: “La Clape”, Beziers, etc. 

Then we have the “Grand Crus”, again, allowing for my own use of the term here, no official grading has been passed down from the officials.  Yet it is worth noting that many in the wine business share in my enthusiasm for this “classification”.  At the very top of the quality scale, we have another dozen or so sub-regions within the Coteaux-du-Languedoc region that include communes such as St-Saturnin and Pic Saint-Loup.  These communes, much like the great Grand Crus of Burgundy may be listed right on the front label with no mention of Coteaux-du-Languedoc necessarily required.  Indeed, these communes are destined for AOC status of their own – very soon.

And when this inevitable status is ultimately granted, the one estate all will have to thank for the recognition – for Pic Saint-Loup specifically – will most certainly be this one; Foulaquier.  Owned by Swiss-architect Pierre Jequier, and run with a zealous nature unmatched by any in the region, this estate’s 1st vintage was the 1999.  That first vintage was a tremendous wine, tasting of pure fruit and depth of minerality more often associated with the greatest wines of the Northern Rhone.  And what makes that fact so truly stunning is that 1999 was one of the more difficult vintages for the commune of Pic Saint-Loup, Foulaquier’s terroir. 

This is a masterpiece.  And as with all masterpieces, it is terribly limited…

2004 Domaine Foulaquier Coteaux du Languedoc Pic St Loup les Calades
80% Syrah, 20% Grenache Dry  Red Table wine
Pic St Loup, Coteaux du Languedoc, Languedoc Roussillon, France
Review by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (D.S.)
Wine Advocate # 173 (Oct 2007)
Rating: 92
“An outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character. In short, these are terrific wines.”
Robert Parker
Drink – NA
        “Swiss architect Pierre Jequier founded his domaine – another one that looks headed for notoriety – in 1999. The Foulaquier 2004 Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint-Loup Les Calades (all of these are named for bird species, incidentally) is 80% Syrah vinified in barriques and demi-muids. Essence of blueberry, black cherry preserves and brown spices in the nose lead to a pure, refined, subtly sweet but intense black and blue fruit palate concentrate with inner-mouth hints of violets and pleasantly piquant suggestions of black walnut, iodine and chalk adding to the allure of a superbly long finish. I am reminded of a hypothetical marriage between the wonderfully, stylistically-diverse Syrahs of Steve Edmunds and his friend John Alban. Needless to say, this wine represents a superb value. Importer: Weygandt-Metzler, Unionville, PA.”
                — Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

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