Southern France is most commonly associated, vinously speaking, with robust red wine values. Well and good, but a bit ironic, since the south of France is home to some of the world’s finest seafood cuisine. Picpoul de Pinet is the great white exception. Within the Languedoc region, near the Mediterranean coast, lying between Sete and Pezenas, Picpoul vineyards are spread over vast terraces, known locally as costieres, extending down from the wild garrigue country to the sea. Picpoul is the grape, Pinet is a small village near the Bassin de Thau, a lagoon famed for its Bouzigues oysters, and Sete, one of the oldest fishing villages in France, founded by the Phoenicians. This interesting varietal yields body, liveliness, purity of flavor and crisp dryness in impressive and inexpensive fashion.
The Domaine St. Peyre’s rendition offers big but focused and refreshing flavor elements of melon, lemon and grapefruit. It’s a terrific aperitif, but is truly celebrated with all shellfish and seafood, as well as full flavored white-meat dishes, cheeses and cured meats. It is greenish- pale yellow, with enticing aromas of lime, smoke, honeysuckle and white flowers, bright and smooth, medium-bodied, with a grapy, rather dense mouth feel, a nicely integrated acidity and a very clean, lengthy finish. Comparison can be drawn to Sancerre-style Sauvignon Blanc, but there are exotic nuances all Picpoul’s own. This zingy, delicious, but virtually unknown wine deserves a look-see from all intrepid wine afficionados.