Aoife Car­rigy’s choice of Pique­pouls

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS - AOIFE CAR­RIGY’S

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, wines­di­ 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.

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