Pineau de Charentes is a traditional regional drink, made from Cognac eau de vie and grape juice. It is usually about 17 per cent.

There are two types of Pineau des Charentes produced today, white and rosé (looks like a red). To be able to call the produce Pineau des Charentes, the cognac eau de vie and grape juice must come from the same property, and be aged in oak casks for a minimum period of 18 months.

The colour is amber with golden tints; it has a powerful aromatic palate, with subtle hints of ripe yellow fruits like apricot, honey and raisins. It is pleasantly sweet and refreshing.

Always served chilled, the Pineau is a wonderful aperitif, and you will see it in restaurants in the area, listed alongside the Kir and Campari. It is also excellent with meals and desserts and very good with cheese too.

In the
Charente, they are very proud of their Cognac and their Pineau. South of the river, as you head towards Pays Basque they produce Armagnac and their aperitif (made in the same way as Pineau) is Floc de Gascogne. Don’t make the mistake of asking for Floc in Charente or for Pineau in Gascony.

Pineau came up during the week on a visit to Curious Wines who were expecting a shipment. This Pineau d'Orignac, now arrived and selling at €22.00, was one of the stars at the official opening of Curious Wines a few months back and there is sure to be quite a demand for it now.

On the way home, I remembered that I had bought quite a bit of Pineau 18 months ago in the Charente and went searching. And sure enough, I found three bottles salted away.

One is from 1995 and marked Vieux. It was a present from Madame Masse of Thezac who was our unofficial wine supplier that holiday. She runs Domaine de La Mothe where you were always welcomed with a glass (of Pineau, naturally) while discussing your order. 

We’ll remember the family and drink to them when we open that bottle this Christmas. I reckon it is Vieux enough now!