The underrated Pic Saint Loup appellation has all the makings of a great terroir: Mediterranean climate, rocky limestone soils, and cool, high-altitude vineyard sites. It’s no surprise that Kermit has touted the area since his first tastings there, detecting significant possibilities for Syrah and Mourvèdre especially. Brothers Pierre, Jean-Marc, and Xavier Ravaille have made it their mission to harness this potential since founding Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup in 1992. They eschew herbicides in their vineyards, choosing instead to plow the soils and treat with biodynamic plant preparations. The focus is on a pure and natural expression of place, so fermentations are spontaneous, aging takes place in used foudres and barriques, and the wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered. This smoky, chewy blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre is a great example of what Pic Saint Loup can achieve in the right hands.
Ermitage du Pic St LoupView all from Ermitage du Pic St Loup
Legends seem to converge at the Ermitage du Pic St-Loup. The hermitage dates back from the Middle Ages, as the former home of the bishops of Maguelone. The limestone peak or "pic" perched above the vineyards was named for the legendary Saint Thieri Loup, one of three pious, crusading, brothers and suitors to the beautiful Bertrade--after her untimely death, Loup became a hermit. In 1992, the Ravaille brothers (Xavier, Pierre, and Jean-Marc) joined forces to plant a vineyard in what has traditionally been land dominated by sheep farming and cheese production. The Ravaille family has been in the Languedoc for over one thousand years, long enough to have known Saint Loup personally. These brothers have been on a noble quest of their own to create serious wine that expresses the complexity of their terroir. The three fish on the label's emblem therefore not only evoke the story of Saint Loup, but also their fraternal collaboration. Within the first few years, the Ravailles came to the conclusion that introducing biodynamic farming practices would allow them to make the wine they wanted. Though they have been using this methodology since 1999, as of 2012 vintage they are certified organic.