WINE O’CLOCK: Popularity breeds content
Sales of Picpoul de Pinet are increasing faster than those of any other wine in the UK, where Tesco alone expects to sell close to two million bottles this year.
I can’t find figures for Ireland but, from observation, I would say the same applies here.
I am not surprised. This crisp white from the south of France has a lot going for it. It is reasonably priced and relatively low in alcohol. The name is easy to pronounce (a bigger sales factor than most people will admit) and is nearly always the most prominent feature of the label.
Unusually, the Picpouls served in restaurants are also sold in shops, so, if you liked the glass you had with lunch, you can bring home a bottle for dinner.
Picpoul wines are from the Languedoc region, which is better known for red wine production. Its coastal Pinet district was known for its vermouth and didn’t export wine at all until vermouth sales slumped in the 1980s.
The growers of Pinet then decided to market the citrus flavoured white wine that locals had been enjoying by the jugful in cafés. They put it in a nice bottle, sealed it with a screw cap (rarely a cork) and sent it abroad. Et voilà!
Popularity often leads to over-production of a wine, with producers cutting corners and allowing an inferior product onto the market. It hasn’t happened yet with Picpoul de Pinet. It’s a great summer wine, so make the most of it.
Les Courtelles Picpoul de Pinet (Dunnes €11)
Typical product of Picpoul vines. Excellent with oysters or any type of shellfish.
Finest Picpoul de Pinet (Tesco €12)
Grown around the Bassin de Thau, where locals say the vines have their head in the wind and their feet in the sea. Flavours of apple and lime
Flamants Picpoul Pinet (SuerValu €12.99)
Try it with a crisp green salad or with goats’ cheese and olives
Castelnau Aigue Marine Picpoul (O’Briens €15.95)
This one is just a little more expensive and a bit more complex. The citrus tang is softened with a hint of peach. A lovely aperitif.