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.

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Until next time. Enjoy your wine.

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