I first tried a bottle of Picpoul de Pinet a year ago, in a selection I “bought” with a very generous £40 voucher from Naked Wines. I knew nothing about the wine, and I’m no conoisseur (but I know what I like, if you know what I mean).
The Naked Wines bottle put Picpoul de Pinet very definitely on my radar, as it was easily the best bottle of the half dozen I bought. But Picpoul de Pinet isn’t a wine you see on the supermarket shelves, so it’s stayed on a dusty shelf in the back of my mind since that Naked Wines experience.
So we’ve been in Languedoc Roussillon for the past week or so, and you can’t miss how much wine production goes on here. There are acres of fields left and right along every road, full of vines bursting into life. We’d seen some vineyards in the Loire Valley, but nothing on this scale. We’ve even seen vines being grown on an island roundabout in the middle of the road down here!
As we pootled into the Camargue for the region, we started seeing signs for Picpoul de Pinet along the way…we were here, right where they make this delicious of wines! My ‘Wine Regions of France’ book tells me that this wine is made in the village of Pinet, which we passed en route to Les Saintes Maries de la Mer. It seems that originally, the Picpoul grapes were used to make vermouths, but since the bottom has fallen out of the vermouth market these days, they’ve reinvented themselves as a wine producing village. I for one won’t be complaining about that.
Once we knew we were in Picpoul de Pinet territory, we had to try some. As it happened, we were miles from anywhere sensible, and all the ‘vente directe’ outlets were closed by the time we got ourselves organised. So we settled for a bottle from the local ‘Superette’ mini-market. It didn’t disappoint. It’s recommended to drink with seafood or shellfish – we had ours with chicken, and it was still delicious!
It’s a dry white wine, that’s quite fruity and substantial. I’m no wine buff, so I can’t describe it in sensible wine conoisseur terms, but it’s got a lot more character than the Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs that line the (UK) supermarket shelves these days. Try some, I promise you’ll like it!
I’ve tracked down a bottle at Waitrose: Picpoul de Pinet Domaine de Felines, £8.99. Enjoy!