A Delightful Spring Sipper: Picpoul De Pinet

New World Picpoul de Pinet (from the Tablas Creek Vineyard blog)

An exchange I heard last summer at a local bar during lunch has stuck with me for almost a year now.

“Ew, I’m not going to date him.”

“Why not?”

“He’s a Sauvignon Blanc drinker!”

At which point I glanced down at the glass of wine in my hand and died a little inside.

Sauvignon Blanc has set the standard for summer sippers among the acid-cravers among us. “When in doubt, go with New Zealand” is the mantra for those of us who crave a wine drier than the Sahara when perusing a wine list in the outdoor seating of a restaurant in summertime.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

A grape that’s beginning to grow in popularity in the New World is Piquepoul Blanc, grown almost exclusively as a varietal wine in the Picpoul de Pinet region in France, though it is permitted as a blending grape in Chateauneuf du Pape. One of the oldest grapes cultivated in Languedoc, Piquepoul Blanc takes its name from the incredible acidity of the grapes “piquing” the lips of those who drink it. It’s a reliably dry, citrusy affair, and the controlled, limited production of the grape ensures an even better average quality than Sauvignon Blanc.

I’ve given a few of these guys a try, and in fact reviewed one last year, and I wanted to share my experience with another one with you “Sauvignon  Blanc Drinkers” to see if maybe there’s another white wine out there for you. You know, just in case it’s hindering your dating life.

Today, we’re covering the 2009 Font Mars Picpoul de Pinet, a wine that I was delighted to see on the menu of West End Wine Bar in Chapel Hill.

Chateau Font Mars Picpoul De PinetThe Picpoul de Pinet has a very light straw color with a spectacular luminosity. The nose is very appealing, though much, much less fruity than other Picpouls I’ve tried, with a very minerally, soapy scent. It’s like swirling a glass of creek water with a slice of lime dropped in it.

As far as the mouth feel is concerned, it is extraordinarily tangy, extremely dry, with a very full texture, though the acidity feels lower than other Picpouls. The flavors are bright and crisp, with a burst of minerals on the attack with all the flavorful grace of a wet rock.  The lime flavor comes forward after the initial minerals fade away along with some light tropical notes, though only the lime remains lingering on a medium finish. I want to describe the flavors as delicate, but they’re hefty enough to balance out a decent acidity.

Probably the best way for me to describe this wine is “delightful, but plain,” a term that easily applies to 99% of New World Sauvignon Blancs. At $12, it’s a decent value and sure to please the dry white palates in your life. 6/10

My next goal? Try a New World Picpoul. Tablas Creek has one. Maybe I’ll see what Paso Robles has in store for me…

The Wine: Picpoul De Pinet

Producer: Chateau Font Mars

Vintage: 2009

Region: Picpoul de Pinet, Coteaux du Languedoc, France

Varieties: 100% Piquepoul Blanc

Alcohol: 12.5%

Price: $10

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4 Responses to “A Delightful Spring Sipper: Picpoul De Pinet”

  1. Wine Harlots Says:

    “At which point I glanced down at the glass of wine in my hand and died a little inside.”


    Nannette Eaton

  2. cherry Says:

    Hey, I love anything that may stop people gravitating in vast numbers towards Sauvignon Blanc as their only white win choice – Its rampant here in Australia – so I will seek out your Piquepoul Blanc but please can I ask you – from all of us here in the beautiful Clare Valley, South Australia – what about Riesling????

    • wineaccguy Says:

      Hey, Riesling is a fantastic wine in its own right, but it just doesn’t have that same aggressive acidity that placates the Sauv Blanc crowd. I wanted to profile something with the same dry bite to it.

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