Liam Campbell on France's picpol grape
France's Picpoul grape has not inspired many column inches in wine articles or mentions in wine reference books. It's traditionally regarded as a simple blending grape in Southern France.
My own tasting notes from the nineties describe the wines as neutral and bland at best and dull and unexciting as the norm.
Today, Picpoul de Pinet exemplifies the impressive and inspiring quality of wines from the re-invented Languedoc wine region. It started with a local attitude to win back international customers lost to New World competitors. That dynamic magnetised outside investors.
Coupled with French Government incentives to produce less quantity but better quality wines for domestic consumers, the transformation continues. The improvements in Picpoul de Pinet have been discovered by Irish wine buyers for themselves.
They have warmed to its modern crisp and cool style of fresh grapefruit with a salty mineral character. The Muscadet of the Mediterranean, Picpoul is excellent with shellfish but especially with salty and oily fish or for meat-eaters: salamis and cured hams. Pick Picpoul de Pinet - the people's choice.
1) Picpoul de Pinet 2013, Terre de Roqueloupie 13pc
Perfumed with a floral fragrance. A delicious citrus fest, pithy and zesty. An elegant lean Chablis-like style with a salty mineral finish. So good with oysters.
€13.95 at Quintessential Wine Shop, Drogheda; O'Leary's Foodstore, Cootehill and online at quintessentialwines.ie
2) Picpoul de Pinet 2013, The Exquisite Collection 13pc
More earthy than fruity aromas.An oral spa treatment to nettle and grapefruit flavours with zestiness, fresh and invigorating. Graze with a smoked mackerel paté.
€9.99 at Aldi nationwide.
3) Picpoul de Pinet 2012, Villa Blanche, Calmel & Joseph 12.5pc
Muscadet-like with a lemon and peach-kernel scent. Pithy palate with a salty minerality and lemon peel persisting to a long finish. Serve with pasta and broad beans tossed in anchovy butter, allowing 1oz unsalted butter per one anchovy fillet, finely chopped with parsley and chives.
€13.99 at Wines on the Green, Dawson Street, Dublin 2.
4) Picpoul de Pinet 2013, Domaine Guillmarine 13pc
Aromas of the oil of yellow citrus peel married to a herbal note. Concentrated palate of zesty, crisp and fresh green apple fruit. Sufficiently assertive to tackle soy sauce with sushi.
€14.00 at The Counter, Letterkenny and online: jnwine.com
5) Picpoul de Pinet 2013, Font-Mars 12.5pc
Delicious, lively, lemony and tongue-tingling, finishing long with a citrus explosion of lemon sorbet. Try with smoked haddock and sliced courgette in batter.
€14.95 in O'Driscoll's, Cork; Amber, Fermoy and Eugene's, Kenmare. In Dublin: Clontarf Wines; Redmond's, Ranelagh; Kelly's Wine Vaults, Clontarf and Sweeney's, Glasnevin.