Personally, I first learned about Picpoul from winemaker (and kindred spirit) Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyards. He told me that Picpoul literally translates “lip stinger” — and let’s just say that as a lover of lemons, limes, and all sour candies (remember Shockers?), I was immediately taken aback by the power and intensity of the light and lively wine this Santa Cruz winemaker had to offer. So I was more than delighted to dive right into a bottle from varietal’s namesake region, Picpoul-Pinet.

About the Wine Region: Along with Cinsault and Clairette blanche, Picpoul is one of the oldest domestic grape varieties from Languedoc. The Picpoul de Pinet region is a designated cru within the Languedoc AOC appellation for white wines made exclusively from Picpoul blanc.

Picpoul de Pinet map

Picpoul de Pinet runs 3,000 acres along the Thau Lagoon to the west of the Mediterranean Golfe de Lyon. The vineyards enjoy a maritime climate — it’s proximity to the ocean means sea breezes limit high temperatures during the day, while the lagoon’s waters protect the land from massive drops in temperature during the night. The soil types are a combination of limestone, sandy soil deposits.

Flavor Profile: From the bottle the Picpoul has an immediate aroma of wet beach air and damp sand. In fact, this white wine settles into the glass with a kind of “sunrise on the beach” shade of yellow with just a smidge of lemongrass green in the mix. Initial aromas are of green apple and cold butter. Swirl, and more savory notes are revealed: green grass, lemon zest, lemongrass, seaweed, and a hint of something nutty in the background.

On the palate, there’s a strong acidity straight away, but the wine has a cool water texture to it. Fruit flavors are all about green thoughts — green grape, green apple, kiwi, and spiced pistachio nut.

Compared to my Bonny Doon Picpoul (that Picpoul that holds the Picpoul bar in my book), this one lacked that surprising zip and zing that rides through the center of the palate from start to finish. What this version did express was a bit of body and texture from that “spiced pistachio” essence making it a little bit fuller, rounder, and (probably) easier to pair with food.

12.5% ABV

Food Pairing: Expecting this wine to be a bit more zingy than it actually was, I enjoyed the Hugues Beauvignac Picpoul de Pinet 2015 as an aperitif and without a food pairing. However, knowing what I know now, I would drink this again and probably pair it with something simple, but cheesy — I’m thinking a cheese soufflé, or even a chicken alfredo pasta dish. Something that will play with that bit of body but force what zing and zest the wine does have to come forward even more.

More Info: I received the Hugues Beauvignac Picpoul de Pinet 2015 as a sample for review from Total Wine. (Cheers, Megan!). Retail: $11.99 Learn more about France’s Languedoc AOC.

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