John B. Reyna
Raise a glass of LIP STINGER!!!
Updated: May 29, 2020
One of our wine goals with this website is to introduce our followers to exciting wines that are often overlooked. It’s especially fun when the wines we choose are affordable and extremely quaffable.
So put down your glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio and discover the phenomenal value of Picpoul de Pinet wines. It will do you well over spring and summertime!
Picpoul the grape
Picpoul (or Piquepoul) is an ancient grape variety. You can find Blanc, Noir, and Gris versions, but the white is the subject of this post as well as being the most planted of the three versions. Piquepoul roughly translates from its Occitan origins to “lip stinger,” which is a credit to the wine’s high acidity.
Region & climate
Picpoul, the varietal, is grown primarily in Languedoc, which is in the south of France near the Mediterranean Sea. Languedoc hasn’t always been synonymous with quality, but things have changed for the better over the past few decades. Now, Languedoc is considered France’s best value wine region, especially for red wines. You will see Languedoc often mentioned along with Roussillon, which is the wine region to the west of Languedoc. Together they are known as Languedoc-Roussillon.
© Clive Coates M.W. 2000
While Picpoul is found scattered around Languedoc, and a few other places in France, the best examples are found in the appellation of Picpoul de Pinet. In 2013, Picpoul de Pinet earned its own appellation (AOC) within Languedoc, and the appellation appropriated the name of the grape varietal. If you order a Picpoul de Pinet, it must be white wine from the Picpoul grape.
Picpoul de Pinet is near the Mediterranean coast. The southern vineyards run along the Basin de Thau (Thau Lagoon), which is filled with various shellfish.
You can see a few Picpoul de Pinet vineyards and the Basin de Thau up close,
with the Mediterraneas Sea in the far background.
Picpoul de Pinet’s climate is Mediterranean. There are long, hot summers, and relatively mild winters. Despite this heat, the grape retains its delicious, crisp acidity. Sea breezes from the Mediterranean help moderate the heat, but this varies depending on the vineyard site.
The wine is dry and has a green-gold color. It is known for its racing acidity. Picpoul has aromas and flavors of lemon, white blossoms, green apples, and minerality. It has medium alcohol, and is medium to full-bodied. Because of the acidity, the body can seem lighter at the beginning. Yet, the weight of the wine usually pushes through. There is no overt oak influence.
Seafood, especially mollusks and crustaceans, are a perfect match. It makes sense since the Bassin de Thau and the Mediterranean Sea are right next door. Aside from seafood, the wine’s high acidity can cut through rich foods like cheese, cream sauces, and even charcuterie.
This is one of the main reasons we are discussing Picpoul de Pinet. The quality to price ratio is outstanding. These wines usually fall under $16, which is a great price for a quality wine.
The green bottle
The wine almost always comes in a tall green or greenish-brown bottle. The bottles are usually embossed with a Languedoc cross, which also helps with ease of bottle recognition.
In short, Picpoul de Pinet deserves to be in your drinking rotation. It is an easy drinking wine that can be slugged on your patio during self-isolation. Plus, it pairs incredibly well with seafood. And if that wasn’t enough, then there’s the price point. It’s a winner!
So open a bottle of Picpoul de Pinet and transport yourself to the Mediterranean. If only for the ten minutes that it takes you to chug that bottle!