Thanksgiving and Pinot Noir. Oktoberfest and beer. Rosés and the picnics of holiday long weekends. Sometimes observances on the calendar call out for certain well-suited wines. But I tend to think that Valentine's Day is neither particular nor demanding enough to tap for service any specific wine.
And yet, I look down at my tasting note today and I find something virtually made-to-order for Valentine's Day. So here comes a special recommendation, and I'll tell you why in a moment. For now, keep in mind that February 14 is only three days away. If you really want the bottle pictured above (click on it for SAQ details) you may not have the easiest time locating it. You may need to act now for a timely Wednesday evening uncorking.
The wine is Château de Lancyre Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint Loup Grande Cuvée 2001. I bought it a couple of months ago because of its provenance. Mid-range Languedocs from the 2001 vintage are great. I've found in the past these wines pay big dividends. Plus I got it because it is a Languedoc cru -- somewhat of a rarity -- and I was interested in seeing what my favourite type of red wine would taste like when produced from a vineyard demarcated as "superior."
(I also bought it because it's well-reviewed and because it was getting increasingly difficult to buy since stores here in Quebec seem to find it increasingly difficult to keep on display shelves. If this particular Pic Saint Loup cru was so spectacular, I wanted to make sure of it before going out and buying multiple bottles of any remaining stock.)
In the end I'm not sure I would buy more of this -- it's not quite my style -- though I would call it a stand-out. And it stands out especially as a Feb 14 wine. Why?
First it is hot. Hot and French! Like a maid's uniform on Valentine's Day. Seriously, this wine is a tad cooked for my liking at 14.8% alcohol. It has gotten so hot in fact that the percentage by volume on the bottle label had to be blackened out and then reprinted just above the original figure. This means that the high alcohol content on the label draws as much attention to itself as the alcoholic sensation on your palate. But if anything, it's hot enough so as to demand that it not be consumed all alone . . .
And, of course, this wine is French, as in:
Domaine familial de tradition viticole, le Château Lancyre cultive ses vignes sur un terroir exceptionnel entre mer Méditerranée et garrigue, celui du Pic Saint-Loup.This French on the label is even more sexy if I leave out an English translation. Use you imagination!
La conduite du vignoble et le climat typique de cette appellation permettent d'obtenir des raisins (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre) qui, cueillis à maturité optimum, rendements maîtrisés et après un élevage de 12 mois en futs de chêne, donnent naissance a cette grande cuvée du Château de Lancyre.
Ce vin peut avoir du dépôt.
Finally, in addition to its hotness and Frenchness, this wine is actually a real "Valentine" -- a wine produced by a vignernon who's real name is Valentin. True! (Monsieur Valentin works with Monsieur Durand as a winemaking partner.)
The Languedoc red that they have made features extracted fruit and dark subsuming berries. It is slightly spicy with great richness and depth and there's a nice tannic touch to it too. But I did sense that this wine has a tad too much heat, which mars the kind of delicate acid balance I look for.
If a certain equilibrium is nearly lost, virtually everything else is stellar here. Not everyone will find this cuvée teeters much as I did. This is fine Midi winemaking, and though I think it could've been truly great, I know a lot of people are going to really enjoy this bottle. And not just on Valentine's.
Valflaunes, France. 14.8%.