Can you believe it’s almost the end of April? Spring is flying by, or should I say calendar days because it’s still cold, rainy, or snowy in many places including Bordeaux. Warmth and sunshine have barely arrived, although we’ve been teased a bit. So what does one do? Brighten things up with gorgeous pictures like this one, and wines to drink now through early summer. I found one I think you should know about, a perfect summer wine called Picpoul. By the way, the above photo is a vineyard overlooking the Mediterranean in Picpoul-de-Pinet.
Picpoul screams spring into summer when it comes to white wines. Something for a spontaneous Saturday picnic? Yep! Wanting a wine that seriously pairs with seafood whether grilled, baked or raw- absolutely! The great thing about Picpoul is the reasonable price tag: it hovers around $10 to $15. And it’s just plain fun to say …Picpoul!
French #Winophiles Head to Picpoul-de-Pinet
My #winophiles group virtually heads to Picpoul de Pinet this Saturday, April 21st– 8am PT, 5pm in France– to discuss Picpoul wines. Our host Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Cam has an invitation post with additional information about the group and Saturday Twitter chat. Scroll below for links to all #winophiles articles.
About the Grape
Referred to as Picpoul, Piquepoul Blanc, or Picpoul de Pinet, this variety has a long history in Languedoc and also the Rhone Valley where it’s an approved blending grape for inclusion in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In the old world it’s grown in Portugal (Picapoll) and Spain (Avello). New world countries growing it include California (Sonoma, Paso Robles, Calaveras County, Lodi), Washington State (Rattlesnake Hills), Texas (the hill country), and Arizona (Wilcox AVA). There could be more areas I don’t know about. If you know one, let me know!
Where You Can Find Picpoul in France
In southwest France, the village of Pinet over looks the Bassin de Thau (aka Étang de Thau or Thau pond) where oyster and mussel farms are plenty, and a host of other seafood is available. The Bassin is a string of lagoons that eventually access the Mediterranean near the town of Sète, southwest of Montpellier.
The tiny Picpoul de Pinet appellation is found here, within the Languedoc region, one most wine lovers don’t necessarily geek out over. It’s not Burgundy, nor the Loire. It’s not a famous place big wigs promote, or a wine that restaurants put on their list. But if you’re into trying less-known grapes and wines, I think you should try this one.
That Southern French Climate
It can get quite hot in this Mediterranean area however, the climate is unique. The sea breeze is cooling and the lagoon provides a lake effect limiting diurnal temperature swings around the lagoon and up into the nearby hills. The late-ripening Picpoul grape has high natural acidity; the coolness of this particular area almost guarantees it, and vivacious citrus in every glass!
Picpoul de Pinet AOP
Granted “Appellation d’Origine Protégée” status just recently (2013), the AOP can only be listed on the label when grapes come from the Languedoc communes (towns) of Pinet, Mèze, Florensac, Castelnau-de-Guers, Montagnac or Pomérols (note Pomerol in Bordeaux is different). If the answer is yes, the wine is considered a “cru” or best of Picpoul.
Upwards of 80% of Picpoul AOP wine is produced by four, large cooperatives. According to Andrew Jefford of Decanter Magazine, they’re producing fabulous, quality wines. These co-ops tend to work with large importers and supermarket chains making it easier for people to find Picpoul de Pinet in the US (hopefully).
However there are family owned wineries too, like the one I found in the town of Mèze.
Domaine Félines-Jourdan 2016 Picpoul-de-Pinet – 100% Piquepoul 12.5% abv |$12-15
Situated right at the edge of the Thau lagoon, you can understand how the “Félines” vineyard is effected by location and climate. I reached Claude Jourdan while they were in the middle of bottling, but my call was happily taken. According to her, the quality of their wines comes from the particular geographical situation of the vineyard. A few meters from the ocean, they are “bathed in sea spray, enjoying the cool and wet benefits.”
Félines-Jourdan is the largest family owned winery in the appellation, practicing “culture raisonnée”, a form of agriculture with less intervention than traditional agriculture.
I kept my conversation short, having participated in bottling before and knowing one person missing can potentially stop the line!
Visual: clear, yellow with green tinges around the rim
Medium intensity aromas: white flower blossoms, lemon-lime, green apple, honeysuckle, acacia, hints of anise
Palate: dry, medium+ acid, fairly full-bodied, citrus, wet stone and slight minerality rounds out the finish. The wine has a slight, saline tanginess and an exotic side that lingers at the very end.
I’m enamored with this type of bright wine my hubby calls a “wow-quaffer”. Definitely vivacious exotic elegance in every glass.
Why This Wine Is Perfect For Summer
If you like fresh, mineral, citrus driven wines with an exotic side that you can sip while making dinner, serve with oysters, sushi, and just about any grilled seafood or vegetable (tomatoes!), pull your chair up to a bottle of Picpoul. It’s great for warmer weather but don’t limit yourself- drinking it all year is allowed! Mark and I enjoyed it last winter with mussels.
For Picpoul wine and food experiences from my French #winophiles companions, please check out their articles below, direct links are included!
- Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm encourages us to Pick a Picpoul to Enjoy al Fresco This Summer.
- Susannah of Avvinare features Picpoul de Pinet – A Refreshing White from the Languedoc.
- Jill of L’Occasion shares Mediterranean Bliss: Picpoul de Pinet.
- Jeff of FoodWineClick! pairs Picpoul de Pinet and Steak Tartare Redemption.
- Nicole of Somm’s Table writes Cooking to the Wines: Font-Mars Picpoul de Pinet with Crab Cakes and Fennel-Apple Salad.
- Michelle of Rockin Red Blog says, “Picpoul…Take Me Away.”
- Payal of Keep the Peas posts A Lip-Smacking Lip-Stinger: Picpoul de Pinet.
- David of Cooking Chat makes a case for Picpoul Wine with Pesto and Other Pairings.
- Lauren of The Swirling Dervish says Picpoul de Pinet: Your Go-To Wine for Spring.
- Gwendolyn of Wine Predator has Picpoul Goes Southern with Shrimp and Grits.
- Rupal of Syrah Queen will also have a title soon.
- Jane of Always Ravenous pairs Halibut with Spring Vegetables and Picpoul Wine.
- Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles shares Picpouls from Pinet and California and a Seaside Pairing
- Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla pairs Bourride à la Sétoise with Picpoul From France to California’s Central Coast.
- And at Savor the Harvest I’m sharing The Single Variety Wine For Summer- Picpoul de Pinet.