Picpoul, queen grape in the coastal vineyards
of Pinet in the Languedoc
Reine Juliette Picpoul de Pinet (AOP) 2021, 12.5%,
€17.00 Bubble Brothers
Picpoul de Pinet comes from a small area (Pinet) in the Languedoc. It is very reliable and this Bubble Brothers import is one of the consistent ones. If you want something to go with your mussels or oysters, this is a banker.
It has a pale gold colour, is bright, with green highlights, in the glass. There are subtle aromatics, floral, citrus and exotic fruit. Impressively ample bodied, it is a pleaser on the palate, no shortage of citrus fruits and a touch of peach as well plus a refreshing minerality. Well balanced then with a dry finish with light saline notes.
The label suggest pairing with with shellfish, fish dishes, poultry and white meat. Bubbles Brothers also go with seafood and say that it is also an excellent aperitif - I’m can heartily agree with that as I’ve had a few of these Reine Juliette going back to 2010. Wine Folly tell us that the perfect pairing may be fried calamari. Serve at around 10 degrees.
By the way, Picpoul means ‘lip stinger’ but, please, don’t let that put you off. It has indeed no shortage of acidity but nothing extreme (no more than Albarino for instance) and it serves to emphasise the variety’s typical freshness and to help ensure balance.
Indeed, if you can’t get your hands on a Picpoul, then Albarino (or Alvarinho in Portugal) would be an excellent substitute (and vice versa). Other grapes that come close are Assyriko, Melon (the grape for Muscadet), Vinho Verde and Sicily’s Grillo.
Picpoul grows well in sandy soils and is nowadays to be found only in coastal vineyards, between Narbonne and Montpellier, such as those in Pinet itself and the Etang de Thau (a very large lake with high salinity because of its closeness to the coast).