Domaine Julie Benau’s Picpoul de Pinet is a wine that we initially stocked because we felt it was one of the finest of its kind. Now we stock it because we’d have a riot on our hands if we didn’t. Talk about a wine that has gained traction! It has become a favorite and staple for many TWH customers. It combines the desire one might have for a white with charged acidity with one that has some fleshiness. I’d place it somewhere between a Muscadet and crisp white Cotes du Rhone.
Picpoul de Pinet refers both to the name of the grape and the appellation; something you don’t often encounter on a French wine label. The vineyards grow along the Etang de Thau which is a series of lagoons that stretch along the Mediterranean coast. The water has high salinity and is host to a thriving oyster-producing community. Like Muscadet, Picpoul de Pinet is a natural choice for oysters on the half shell. To illustrate this point, Domaine Julie Benau’s Picpoul de Pinet literally has a pen and ink sketch of an oyster on the front label. Though personally, I wouldn’t limit Benau’s Picpoul de Pinet to just raw shellfish – that would be a mistake. Boquerones, grilled sardines or a creamy Brandade would be a great way to go if you had this perky white chilling in the fridge.
In 1980, Julie Benau’s family bought the domaine which centers around a 16th century fortified farm and like most growers in the area do, sold their fruit to the local co-op. In 1999, Domaine Julie Benau began bottling part of their production using their best vines. It is clear to my palate that this practice continues as the 2013 Picpoul de Pinet is laden with green-tinged fruit, lemony flavors and a touch of oily roundness. It’s the texture here that makes me think white Cotes du Rhone, though the body weight of Picpoul is far lighter than a Rhone. Perhaps not coincidentally, outside of the Languedoc, Picpoul can be found growing in the Rhone. It is one of the thirteen varietals allowed in Chateauneuf du Pape and is used mainly to add acidity to the blend. The word Picpoul itself translates to “stings the lip”.
TWH post-Holiday staff party last Saturday night was a great celebration. Vintage Champagne and crab beignets (an incredible combination)…and that was only the beginning! My tastebuds are still doing a happy dance one week later. Speaking of dancing, my tiny dancer is hitting the big stage to perform sick Hip Hop moves as part of a dance school showcase. I am giddy with excitement for her. Break a leg, sweet pea!