Tired of drinking the same dry white wine this summer? Discover the zingy freshness and fantastic value of Picpoul de Pinet wines, from France's Languedoc-Roussillon region. See below for Andrew Jefford's top 10 of the best, all for under £12...
What is Picpoul de Pinet wine?
It’s a crisp white wine made from the ancient Picpoul grape, hailing from Languedoc-Roussillon’s Picpoul de Pinet AOC in southwest France.
Scroll down for the top 10 Picpoul de Pinet wines to enjoy this summer
It has grown by Étang de Thau, a string of lagoons stretching from the coast to the Pyrénées, for centuries, but it’s only fairly recently that Picpoul de Pinet has gained widespread appreciation as a dry white wine, and it only became an appellation in 2013. Originally, it might have been more well known as one of the grapes used to make vermouth.
Black or red strains of the Picpoul grape do exist, but it’s more common to encounter wines made from the white variety, which you can spot by looking for the signature sleek green bottle.
Picpoul de Pinet wines are often clear with green tints, although it can be more golden coloured if harvested from old vines. The wines are generally drunk young, within the first few years of release.
What does it taste like?
Picpoul’s name literally translates to ‘lip stinger’, on account of its zingy acidity. This is often complemented by citrus and green fruit flavours, with aromas of blossom. More complex examples can display mineral or yeasty notes, too. It might be compared to Muscadet wines from the Loire Valley.
In Languedoc, Picpoul de Pinet wines are often paired with local seafood like mussels and oysters, as its zesty acidity makes it a prime partner for seafood. A more contemporary pairing seen around restaurants this summer is Picpoul with fish and chips.
Its high acidity can also cut through rich foods like cheese and charcuterie, or even desserts, making it a versatile wine for picnics.
Top 10 Picpoul de Pinets
According to the back label, this is ‘a brilliantly tangy hit of apple, pear and lemon zing’ which is accurate – Tesco’s buyer seems to have asked for a very fruity incarnation of Picpoul, for sipping on its own as well as with food.
Apple, pear and lemon, sketched with restraint and grace, from a magnificently sited property and 16 ha of carefully tended vines.
This wine from up in the back hills of the appellation is pithy and yeasty-fresh, with a spicy lemon-orange note which almost reminds me of wheat beer. There’s dancing acidity and a pungent finish
This old-vine cuvée strikes me as most rewarding: scents of lime blossom, with a cascade of seamless flavours given ample lees richness. Hails from a historic 50-ha domain produces a range of four Picpoul wines including a oaked and a late-harvest version.
The mouthfilling 2016 Duc de Morny, a classic from the Cave de l’Ormarine co-operative based in Pinet. Look out too for the zesty 2016 ‘Cuvée L’Effet Mer’ and the Cuvée Prestige, one of the most successful of the local ‘prestige’ versions.
Montagnac is the zone’s back-country co-op, but this wine proves that you don’t necessarily need the sound of waves lapping on the shore to make good Picpoul: there are leaf, apple and stone scents and flavours, with plenty of mouthwatering sheerness to them.
Standards are high at the biggest of Picpoul’s private estates, the 95-ha Félines-Jourdan (with a full 60 ha in Picpoul, sited in three different zones with three different domain origins: Félines close to the sea at Mèze; Les Cadastres in the heart of the appellation; La Coulette up among the…
This old-established 55-ha estate owned by Jan-Baptiste de Klock has 10 ha of Picpoul. This is a true fine-dining style: taut, fresh, clean, elegant, full of lemony pungency, with a finishing impression of understated richness.
This wine exists in two versions (with a black label indicating a crisper, more pungent style and a white label a softer, gentler style – both are good): clean limey fruit, a salty edge, great freshness and precision in the mouth, with structuring but ripe acidity
This old-vine cuvée (its members own 450 ha, so Beauvignac has plenty to choose from) is about as sappy and ripely green as Picpoul can get: springtime in liquid form, without much glycerol, majoring on ripe acidity and with a stony, pungent finish.