Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Picpoul de Pinet

I got an alert from one of my wine vendors today stating that their supply of Picpoul is getting very low, which is not a good thing for us because we go through a lot of it, but not because customers order it very often.

Customers don't order it for a lot of reasons: it's the cheapest wine on the list (and therefore somehow inferior to more expensive wines, goes their thought process); they don't know how to pronounce it (peek-pool); they never heard of it (that's the reason for this blog post); or, it's not Pinot Grigio (the new Chardonnay, the wine everybody asks for without any consideration of the list).

Picpoul is a very old wine from the Midi in France, just inland from the beautiful Mediterranean fishing village of Sète (aka the Venice of the Languedoc), and one of the best whites from that region. It's entitled to AOC Coteaux du Languedoc status, and will probably gain its own AOC over the next few years. Picpoul is thought to be native to the Languedoc. In a day when most everyone plants grapes from elsewhere, it's refreshing to taste a wine from a grape grown on its native turf.

It's a great fresh, floral, fruity wine with excellent acid balance and pairs delightfully with light fare and seafood. I especially enjoy it with cheeses. Moreover, it's priced very attractively even with the dollar being pounded by the Euro.

So, why do we go through so much if customers don't order it? We cook with it because it has just the right balance of fruit and acid at a great price.

And here's a trick question: what grapes are in Picpoul de Pinet? The name's right on the label, but the official spelling of the grape is Piquepoul Blanc, same pronunciation.

Picpoul is one of the great underappreciated value wines from the south of France. Give it a try some time. For more reading, refer to the official Picpoul de Pinet web site.

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