Aoife Carrigy’s choice of Piquepouls
Have you met Piquepoul yet? If not, it’s time to get acquainted. Aromatic but dry with zippy acidity and salty minerality, it makes an ideal match for shellfish. (Indeed, it’s often hailed as the Muscadet of the south of France.) You’ll find it popping up in more and more restaurants and wine stores, mostly listed as Picpoul de Pinet, which is not only another name for the grape itself but also that of a small wine appellation which hugs the coast of southern Languedoc.
Like Pinot Grigio, the go-to choice for ladies who lunch, Piquepoul plays the middle ground, uniting the opposing camps of Chardonnay fans and Sauvignon Blanc lovers and appealing to those who want ripe aromatics, body and weight alongside freshness and acidity. But unlike much Pinot Grigio, which too often sacrifices character for amenability, Picpoul manages to play to the crowd with its own signature style and character.
That coastal positioning is key to Piquepoul’s charm. Grapes need sunshine to ripen all those lovely fruit flavours, and the south of France certainly gets its fair share of rays. But they need a cooling influence to prevent them from ripening too quickly, which is where the sea air comes in. Slower ripening captures natural acidity, something Piquepoul has plenty of, and it also allows for more complex nuances such as the herbal or vegetal notes which this grape can offer up. If you’re still looking for an official introduction, any one of these half dozen should do the job nicely.
Mas Puech Picpoul de Pinet 2012, Coteaux du Langeudoc, France
€14.99, Supervalu With aromas of zesty grapefruit, hints of apricot and mineral notes all leading to a fleshy palate with lovely citrus lift, this friendly Piquepoul strikes a nice balance between fruit, acidity, minerality and dryness. Serve solo or with antipasti nibbles.
Terre de Roqueloupie Picpoul de Pinet 2013, Coteaux du Langeudoc,France €13.95, Garden House Farmshop, Malahide; Drogheda’s Quintessential Wines Quite a distinctive take on the grape, thanks to pronounced Poire William and pink grapefruit aromas. Try with pork dishes, Asian stir fries or celery-based risottos.
Cuvee Ressac Picpoul de Pinet 2012, Coteaux du Languedoc, France €13.29 Marks & Spencer From lively aromas of apple skin and beechnuts through to its sunny, citrus-soaked palate, slightly oily mouthfeel and fresh mineral finish, this friendly Piquepoul ticks lots of boxes. Think everything from picnics to lemon-roast chicken.
Baron de Badassiere Picpoul de Pinet 2012, Coteaux de Languedoc, France €14.99, Morton’s, D6; Fallon & Byrne, D2; Martins, D3 and independents A little age has mellowed this Piquepoul so its lemon-lead character is less edgy while remaining clean, fresh and focused. Good with white meat but a great stand-alone, too.
Villemarin Picpoul De Pinet 2012, Cot. du Langeudoc, France, €13.99, Mitchell & Son Wine Merchants What sets this class act apart is not its red apple aromas or mellow mouthfeel balanced by zippy citrus character, but the smart, clean line of acidity that runs right through to the long saline finish. Serve with the freshest of seafood.
Domaine Felines Jordan Picpoul de Pinet 2013, Coteaux du Langeudoc, France €13.05, winesdirect.com A clean, classy example combining spritzy acidity and a crisp zesty finish, its delicate sweetsalty balance would pair as well with caramelised onion tarts or salty cheeses as with classic seafood.