As we enter the peak of the summer heat, we're excited to introduce you to the latest release from the south of France that is sure to keep your palate refreshed: Lot 219 Picpoul de Pinet! We turned to Katie Melchior of @frenchwinetutor to help us explore this fantastic region and dive in to what makes this wine so perfect for the summer months. Grab yourself a glass and read on to discover more... Santé!
When someone tells me they love Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire or crisp Chardonnay from northern Burgundy, but don’t know which French whites to try next, I often end up pointing them to the Languedoc’s pretty Picpoul de Pinet. My recommendation is often met with curiosity and raised eyebrows. “How could a wine from such a warm climate be perfect for summer? And how can it compete with refreshing alternatives farther north?” My answer is simple: that’s just the magic of a good Picpoul de Pinet. But what is Picpoul de Pinet and what makes this little appellation d’origine contrôlée so refreshing and perfect for summer? Read on to learn more.
Unlike many other appellations in France, Picpoul de Pinet actually has the grape name in the title: picpoul (or piquepoul, if you’re using traditional French spelling). It’s an ancient white grape variety that is native to the South of France, so it makes sense that some of its best expressions come from the place it was born: Pinet, a pretty French village in the Languedoc. When it comes to defining the grape name however, wine experts are split. Some say it means “to sting the lips”, but the reality is that’s not quite accurate. The verb “piquer” in French does mean “to sting”, however “poul” doesn’t mean lips: by many accounts it actually refers to hens, spelled as “poule” in classical French. The belief is that hens would eat the grapes that had dropped to the ground before harvest. Others say the use of “pic” doesn’t actually have anything to do with stinging or hens at all - rather it refers to a mountain within the region, Pic Saint-Loup. Whatever you believe, this grape is certainly one of a kind!
While the Languedoc is generally one of the warmer regions in France, the Picpoul de Pinet appellation benefits from a variety of cooling effects that make the resulting wines so wonderfully crisp and high-acid. It is right on the border of a saltwater lake, the Étang de Thau, which feeds right into the Mediterranean sea beyond. The grapes benefit from cooling breezes throughout the year and while they do get quite a lot of sunshine, the proximity to the water (both the lake and the sea!) helps to cool the ground and keep the wines fresh. It’s really due to its unique location that Picpoul de Pinet has the reputation it does - and is one of the largest producers of white wine in the Languedoc.
90+ Cellars’ new Lot 219 is a great example to try if you’ve never had a sip of Picpoul de Pinet before. It’s fresh, approachable, and mineral-driven, with characteristic citrus notes like lemon and lime. Bring it to an outdoor summer fête and pair it with goat cheeses, oysters, fresh shrimp, or even a salad and your guests will not be disappointed! Pick up a bottle at 90+ Cellars and keep a few on hand through Labor Day. Santé !