Sunday, December 18, 2005

Picpoul de Pinet

Sometimes, it is not the label that makes you buy a wine, but the name, and Picpoul de Pinet is certainly one of them.

Picpoul is a little known grape that is native to the Languedoc and one of the thirteen permitted varietals in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Today, it is rarely used in the Rhône Valley and most of the production comes from the Picpoul de Pinet appellation. The meaning of the name Picpoul is unclear. Some believe that it translates into lip stinger because of its high acidity. Others think that it means pecking hens because in the old days, the hens liked to peck its early ripening fruits.

Pinet is a small Languedoc village where the wine is produced. The vineyards of Picpoul de Pinet overlook the oyster and mussel farms of the Bassin de Thau. Although the climate is dry and sunny, the lake provides coolness and humidity at night, which allows the grapes to retain a high level of acidity. And thanks to its freshness and crisp mineral flavors, the wine is the ideal accompaniment to the local oysters and mussels.

The other day, I didn't have oysters with my glass of 2004 Hughes Beaulieu Picpoul de Pinet, but Dungeness crab. The wine was absolutely delicious with the delicate flavors of the crab meat. It had an attractive nose of floral and mineral aromas, a lively acidity on the palate and a clean, citrusy finish.

No wonder the hens used to eat the grapes, these animals certainly know what is good.

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Jathan said...

Wow, interesting stuff, I've hadn't heard of Picpoul before this. Sounds like it would taste similar to Sauvignon Blanc?

(MMmm Dungeness Crab)

Catherine Granger said...

I would say a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or a Muscadet.

P said...

Thanks for the info. Had a Picpoul for the first time tonight and was curious about the grape and vinification. I served it with salmon, but I think it would be better suited to white fishes or shellfish, don't you? Cheers!

Catherine Granger said...

I agree, because of its acidity, I think Picpoul is best with shellfish, and a nice squeeze of lemon.