Pinet Picpoul Blanc

Characterfully part of the Occitanie region in southwest France, the hamlet of Pinet sits six miles inland from the unusual coastal zone of a saltwater lagoon, the Etang de Thau. In spite of a modest population of 1,300, this is the heart of the Picpoul de Pinet AOC and so has a disproportionately high concentration of winemakers who specialize in the fashioning of Picpoul – once the favoured style for Emperor Napoleon III. Regionally distinctive, this premium white wine is made with a lesser-known, golden-skinned grape originally called Piquant-Paul, later as Picapulla, and finally now, Piquepoul Blanc.

Referencing the grape’s high levels of acidity and mineral accents, Picpoul’s name translates as ‘stings the lip’ – though it doesn’t really, of course! Historically, this lively fruit was blended with another obscure variety, Clairette, creating a tangy wine style called Picardin – millions of liters of which were shipped northwards along the networks of canals to Paris each year. Susceptible to various pests, the vines fell out of vinicultural favour in the late 19th century. Able to thrive in sandy Mediterranean soils, Picpoul Blanc is once again a resurgent variety in the coastal vineyards that surround Pinet.

Pinet is also home to the cooperative Cave de Pomerols. Founded in 1932, this group now boasts 350 growers who tend to over 800 hectares of highly productive vineyards in a landscape that is basically a chalky-clay plateau, rich in limestone, quartz gravel, and otherwise covered with Garrigue. Lining the coast, this indigenous vegetation is made up of small aromatic bushes, which like the local grapes, have gradually adapted to thrive in the near-drought climate of summertime. Though challenging, these growing conditions are fortuitously punctuated by late season humidity, thereby encouraging the fruit to plump up and reach full maturity before harvest.

As in this week’s DéClassé recommended bottling of Beauvignac Picpoul de Pinet 2016, the traditional varietal white wine style is dry and citrus-scented. It also has a long-standing reputation for being a perfect complement to shellfish – with the wine’s acidity balancing the saltiness of the food. However, Picpoul is generally food-friendly, as well as, fulfilling when served alone as an apéritif. Don’t expect a big-bodied white wine here, rather be prepared for a delightful succumbing to its beguiling lightness and verve.

BEAUVIGNAC PICPOUL DE PINET 2016
VINTAGES –LCBO Product #350124 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 14.95
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: D

Made in Midi, France
By: Les Costières de Pomérols
Release Date: May 27, 2017

Tasting Note
A very lively wine style with lemony overtones of citrus fruit, pleasantly refreshing grapefruit flavours and a hint of minerality on the tangy finish. It’s an ideal partner with seafood, grilled fish, rich and savoury cheeses or salty charcuterie.

Picpoul Alert

Pinet is a small coastal municipality in southwest France situated nearby to the
edge of the saltwater Thau Lagoon. Though only having a modest population of
around 1300, this is nonetheless the heart of the Picpoul de Pinet AOC. As
one of the proud members of this vibrant, historically rich, wine-producing region,
the Ormarine winery is a co-operative dating to the early 1920’s. This era also
saw the rebirth of other local vineyards that had to painstakingly recover from
the widespread decimation of their plantings by the Phylloxera pest earlier on.

Ormarine’s wine-growing area, within sight of the lapping shores and cooling sea
breezes of the Mediterranean, is a unique chalky-clay plateau rich in limestone,
quartz gravel and otherwise covered with Garrigue. This coastal vegetation is
made up of an assortment of small aromatic bushes, which like the local grapes,
have gradually adapted to thrive in the near-drought climate of summertime.
These growing conditions are fortuitously punctuated by late season humidity,
thereby encouraging the fruit to plump up, reaching full maturity before harvest.

A favourite style of the Emperor Napoleon III, these premium wines result from
the somewhat obscure, golden skinned grape originally called Piquant-Paul, later
as Picapulla and finally as Piquepoul. Translating as ‘stings the lip’, the moniker
references naturally high levels of acidity and mineral accents that distinctively
characterize this ancient variety. Used to create a dry and citrus-scented style
of varietal white wines, they are a perfect complement to shellfish as the fruit’s
acidity balances-off the saltiness. Generally food-friendly, Picpoul is also very
satisfying alone as a well-chilled apéritif offering with chocolates!

Ormarine

ORMARINE PICPOUL DE PINET 2013
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #525287 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 12.95
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Midi, France
By: La Cave de l’Ormarine
Release Date: Jan. 24, 2015

Tasting Note
A very lively wine style with lemony overtones and pleasant, refreshing grapefruit
flavor notes. Hints of minerality and the tangy finish make for an ideal partner to
oysters, crab, mussels, grilled fish or rich cheeses and charcuterie.

Picpoul Alert

Pinet is situated inland some six miles from the coast, bordering on the edge of
Etang de Thau (a salt water lagoon) in southwest France. In spite of a modest
population of 1300, this nonetheless is the heart of the Picpoul de Pinet AOC.
A favourite style of the Emperor Napoleon III, these premium, regionally distinct
wines are made with a lesser-known, golden skin-coloured grape originally called
Piquant-Paul, later as Picapulla and finally now known as Piquepoul. Referencing
the grape’s naturally high levels of acidity with mineral accents, its name literally
translates as ‘stings the lip’ – though it doesn’t really, of course!

Moreover, this lively fruit was traditionally blended with another obscure variety
known as Clairette, creating a tangy wine style called white Picardin – millions of
liters of which were once shipped northwards along networks of canals to Paris
each year. Susceptible to various pests, the vines fell out of vinicultural favour in
the late 19th century. Able to thrive in sandy soils (unlike it’s associated pests),
Picpoul is again resurgent in Mediterranean coastal vineyards that surround Pinet.

Home to the cooperative Cave de Pomerols founded in 1932, this group boasts
320 members and growing, tending to over 800 hectares of highly productive
vineyards in a landscape that is basically a chalky-clay plateau, rich in limestone,
quartz gravel and otherwise covered with Garrigue. This indigenous vegetation
lining the coast, is made up of an assortment of small aromatic bushes, which
like the local grapes have gradually adapted to thrive in the near-drought climate
of summertime. Though challenging, these growing conditions are fortuitously
punctuated by late season humidity, thereby encouraging the fruit to plump up,
reaching full maturity before harvest.

For this week’s DéClassé recommended bottling, this ancient varietal white is a
very dry, citrus-scented wine with a long-standing reputation for being the perfect
complement to shellfish – the wine’s acidity balancing off the saltiness. However,
Picpoul is food-friendly in general and fulfilling when served alone as an apéritif.

Beauvignac

BEAUVIGNAC PICPOUL DE PINET 2013
VINTAGES –LCBO Product #350124 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 13.95
12.5% Alcohol/Vol.
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD

Made in: Midi, France
By: Les Costières de Pomérols
Release Date: May 24, 2014

Tasting Note
A very lively wine style with lemony overtones of citrus fruit, pleasantly refreshing
grapefruit flavours and a hint of minerality on the tangy finish. It’s an ideal partner
with seafood, grilled fish, seafood, rich cheese and charcuterie.