Chateau Fontanes Pic Saint-Loup Rouge 2016
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Press 4 Mix / Press 4 White • February 2023 Direct Press Selection
I've always had a soft-spot for wines from Pic Saint-Loup, a small appellation in France's Languedoc. Just a week or so into my first wine shop job, a customer returned a bottle of a Pic Saint-Loup because it was off. My boss diplomatically sussed out that it was too rustic for their tastes but suggested I try it. I was enthralled with it's wild, feral funk, and it was possibly the gateway drug for me and natural wine. I wish I could remember the exact producer (this happened in 2007, gasp) but this wine from Cyriaque Rozier is a strong contender, as he is the winemaker at both Chateau La Roque and his personal project Chateau Fontanes, long imported by Kermit Lynch. Cyriaque ends up working 16-hour days between the two estates; working Biodynamically and taking no shortcuts surely doesn't help.
This 2016 version of his red is a real treat, as you get to experience the way his full-bodied wines are built to age, deepening in complexity and gravitas. It is a blend of 40% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, 10% Cinsault, 10% Carignan, grown on extremely rocky soils that used to be home to olive trees. Cyriaque has to do extensive work to prevent erosion, including building stone terraces. It's a robust wine but there are beautiful, bright overtones poking through the layers of cherry, sage, and olive skin. Earthy grip, wild garrigue, and such soul. Jonathan Kemp
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