Friday, 30 January 2015


Or Picpoul de Pinet to be precise. Never heard of it. Well I think you are in for a bit of a treat. Don't misunderstand me it's not going to blow your socks off or anything but if you are looking for an easy drinking white wine that is great as an aperitif and will pair with just about anything then keep your eye open for a bottle of one of southern France's best kept secrets (although not so secret anymore).

When I completed my wine qualifications (10 years since) I don't think it was even mentioned once on the course. I had vaguely heard the name but was sitting in a Café Rouge in Manchester sometime

My first acquaintance with Picpoul
in 2011 and noticed it on their wine list and also that they sold it by the glass. Intrigued I ordered a glass and was hooked immediately. Subsequently I have seen its presence grow exponentially in the last couple of years.

Tesco Finest

All of the main supermarkets have one on their shelves. My personal favourite, and if you follow me regularly you will have seen me recommend it previously, is the Tesco Finest Picpoul which is currently £7.99 but I have seen as low as £5.99.

Produced by Jean Luc Lavergne it is without doubt one of Tesco's best wines and this is confirmed by the high rating it has from Tesco shoppers.

What's The Story?

Picpoul de Pinet and surrounding appellations
Pinet is a tiny appellation in the deep south of the Languedoc-Rousillon region of France
between the cities of Montpellier and Béziers. Picpoul is the white grape variety that traditionally used in the production of local vermouth Noilly Prat. As its sales declined more and more of the grapes were diverted to the production of Picpoul de Pinet which led to it's arrival in the UK and growing popularity. Grape production continues to rise.
A sign of quality
As with most regional French wines the history is long and the distinctive 'fire brand' sign, seen on all bottles, was used on barrels from 1773 after permission was granted by Turgot, a future minister of Louis XVI. It comes in a very distinctive tall bottle too which makes it stand out from the crowd.

The actual name Picpoul translates as 'lip stinger' suggesting the wine is high in acidity. I find it utterly refreshing, and not dissimilar to the once mighty but now being quietly (sadly) forgotten gem from the Loire, Muscadet. As with Muscadet it is great with seafood and with shellfish superb. If you're fed up with Sauvignon and good Chablis is rather expensive give this a go. I promise you cannot go wrong.

Magnum and 75cl Picpoul
I had been thinking of writing a blog about Picpoul for a little while. I was convinced yesterday by a
trip to my local Majestic. Picpoul by the magnum. If Majestic feel they can justify selling it by the magnum then it must be popular. I had to buy one (£19.99). On checking it is not available in all stores so you may need to check locally.

I think it will need to sit in my store (with care) until the summer for the right occasion to bring it out but what a bottle to own. If you see me at any local shows with my Glory of Wine Tastings business after the summer I will definitely have it on show (empty though, sorry!).

The Final Word

It's been a little while since I've been in Café Rouge so I thought I would check and yes of only seven wines they serve by the glass the Picpoul, the 'Duc de Morny' still makes the cut. Try it first then please do spread the word.

Do you enjoy my wine blogs? Come and meet me in person. Visit my website or follow my Facebook or Twitter feeds. I would love to organise a tasting event for you.

Until next time. Enjoy your wine.

Thursday, 15 January 2015


Matsu is a wine producer from the Toro region of Spain that I really like and the styling of their bottles is so unique that I think they are worthy of an individual blog. Did I mention the gorgeous, silky wines? They have been a massive hit in our family, in particular with my sister-in-law Helen.

I say I like them but a higher authority than me Neal Martin, taster for Spain for Robert Parker, rates the El Viejo at 94 points on the 100 point scale. A sensational score for a wine that can be found for less than £25 a bottle. But in fact the whole range is superb.

I first came across the Matsu El Picaro when searching for wine for an early tasting event for my Glory of Wine Tasting business. The event was actually a hen party for Clare and took place at a rented cottage in Staffordshire.

Matsu El Picaro
Great for a hen party!
Matsu El Recio
Great for a party!
On seeing the bottle you may guess why I chose it for the tasting. I figured the handsome chap on the bottle would be a hit with the girls and so it proved with some of them having their photo taken with faces next to the bottle. It was also their favourites wine of the eight we tasted and I thought it pretty good too.

Clare's hen party - The handsome chap is the Matsu El Picaro -
Oh and I am there also holding the bottle!
I went away rather pleased with myself and thought no more about it until looking for wines for another event a few months later where the aforementioned Helen would be a guest at Nathalie's wine party. Knowing they both liked Rioja I was looking for an appropriate Spanish wine when I came across the El Recio. This time the wine was a massive hit with everyone loving it and I think it is without doubt currently one of my favourite wines.
Nathalie's party with Helen (in white) holding the El Recio

Matsu El Viejo
Just great!

By this stage the whole Matsu range was becoming something of a cult in our family and we completed the set with a tasting of the amazing El Viejo a few months later. The bottle labels are used in a very clever and innovative way to show you the age of the vines and the faces used are vineyard workers from the Matsu vineyards.

Roughly translated El Picaro means 'the rogue' or cheeky one (vines 90 years old), El Recio 'the tough one' (90-100 years) and El Viejo 'the old one' (vines 100+ years old) . If I was to pick a favourite it would be the El Recio which is velvety and smooth with plenty of black fruit punchiness and a long, lingering finish. Perfect with some duck, lamb or beef or even some heavier flavoured cheeses.

The fabulous Matsu range

Of course these wines aren't actually Rioja but they are made from the Rioja grape Tempranillo, known as Tinto de Toro here, which makes many great wines all over Spain not just in Rioja.

For more information about Matsu do take a look at their excellent website. Sadly, for the moment Majestic where I purchased all of the above mentioned wines are not currently stocking the Matsu range. If you would like to try some and I highly recommend them you can try Sandhams Wine. I have emailed Majestic to ask if they will be stocking it again and I will post a response on here when I get one.

EDIT - Majestic have confirmed to me today that they should be available again in all stores by the end of February.

Do you enjoy my wine blogs? Come and meet me in person. Visit my website or follow my Facebook or Twitter feeds. I would love to organise a tasting event for you.

Until next time. Enjoy your wine.