Southern Star Rising


A difficult birth for France's newest appellation

The 2016 vintage was a rollercoaster for France’s newborn appellation, Languedoc’s Pic St.-Loup.

In September, nearly 2,500 vineyard acres on the lower flanks of the jagged mountain “Pic,” some 15 miles north of Montpellier, achieved the independent appellation status its winegrowers had sought for more than 20 years. On the surface, the change is subtle: Red and rosé wines that had been labeled as the subappellation Languedoc–Pic St.-Loup will become simply Pic St.-Loup with the 2017 vintage.

But the new AOC designation—expanded from 13 to 17 winegrowing villages—also comes with tightened rules on quality, stricter limits on production, and a clear vision for the kind of wines it will produce: fresh, elegant and spicy red blends dominated by a trio of great southern varieties: Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre.

That is good news for wine lovers. Yet hopes for jubilation in Pic St.-Loup—which received the recognition in the middle of harvest—were dampened by catastrophe. Just weeks earlier, the appellation was hit by one of the most devastating hailstorms on record.

“It was like winter in August,” recalls Régis Valentin, 48, winemaker of his family’s Château de Lancyre, which dominates a rustic 12th-century hamlet of the same name... read the full blog (free) at