Monday, May 3, 2010

LeDomduVin: Picpoul de Pinet & 2008 Les Vignobles Montagnac Picpoul de Pinet Montagnac Languedoc Hérault France

Picpoul de Pinet

With Summer knocking at the door, "literally" with the temperatures of this past weekend, it is time again to focus a bit more on crisp Whites, thirst quencher Rosé(s) and fresh light Reds. Among my favourite whites for Spring and Summer, Picpoul de Pinet wines are surely great contenders: fresh, vivid, light, uncomplicated and versatile, and more importantly, totally inoffensive.

Why inoffensive? Because I think that, in comparison, a white stinking of non-integrated new oak (e.g. some Californian chardonnay) and full of alcohol (i.e. above 13.5-14 degrees) is really offensive to me, especially when it is humid and “suffocatingly” hot in the streets of New York.

“Les Vignobles Montagnac” makes a tremendous Picpoul de Pinet for a tremendous price, another reason to choose a Picpoul de Pinet. It will also be inoffensive for your wallet. Two good reasons to discover this little wine!

Picpoul de Pinet is a small appellation of the western part of Languedoc. Along the Mediterranean Sea, on the Gulf of Lion, the Terroir of Picpoul de Pinet extends around the "Bassin de Thau", in the middle of a triangle between the towns: Agde Pezenas and Sete.

This is one of the greatest white wine regions of Languedoc: a limestone plateau exposed to the rising sun, covered with vineyards and fragrant bushes, dotted with high pine forests.

Picpoul de Pinet AOC only produces white wines from "Picpoul Blanc", an indigenous white grape variety also used in the Rhone Valley. Its name means "lip-stinger", which refers to the high acidity content of the grapes. Picpoul Blanc has two lesser-known siblings that generate less attention: Picpoul Noir and Picpoul Gris, also used in the Languedoc and Rhone Valley.

Les Vignobles Montagnac

Montagnac is a little village located in the northern part of the Picpoul de Pinet appellation, about 15 kilometres (driving) north of the village of Pinet and about 6 kilometres northeast of Pézenas.

"Les Vignobles Montagnac" is a wine cooperative built in Montagnac in 1937. It rapidly became the cooperative for the neighbouring municipalities, covering Montagnac and a few more of the surrounding villages. The cooperative produces wines from about 2,250 hectares of vines, mostly planted within two sites: Montagnac and Loupian.

When it was built, Montagnac was the largest vinification facility in the "Hérault" department. Its vineyards stretch from the banks of the "Bassin de Thau" to the foothills of the mountains on the right bank of the Hérault River.

On these diverse "terroirs" (combination of soils and microclimates), "Les Vignobles Montagnac" produces equally diverse wines. The wine range comprises the AC Picpoul de Pinet, AC Coteaux du Languedoc (red and rosé), AC Coteaux du Languedoc Grès de Montpellier and AC Coteaux du Languedoc Terroir Pézenas, as well as red, rosé and white Vins de Pays des Coteaux de Bessilles and the varietals Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

Les Vignobles Montagnac represents 750 winegrowers, including numerous wine estates. Let’s face it: Les Vignobles Montagnac produces about 10% of the entire AOC Picpoul de Pinet, which confers them a leading position in terms of production but also quality.

2008 Les Vignobles Montagnac Picpoul de Pinet Montagnac Languedoc Hérault France

Suggested retail price $8-$11
Distributed by Bayfield Imports in NYC

This wine has a cute label with a drawing that describes quite well the literal French translation of Picpoul de Pinet: une dotted hen (une Poule) on a stingy sewing needle (une aiguille a coudre qui pique ou piqué dans les points de broderie du dessin), understand: "Pique" 'Poule". 

Made with 100% Picpoul Blanc grapes from mechanically harvested 8-year-old vines planted on calcareous red clay slopes known as "Terres Rouges”. The grapes were pressed immediately, and the best juices were selected and then allowed to settle before ongoing the temperature-controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The wine was left on its fine lees to accentuate flavours, texture and complexity without imparting its freshness.

Known as the Muscadet of the South, Picpoul de Pinet produces a clean, fresh and balanced white wine that works well with a variety of seafood, and this one from Montagnac is a great example of the friendliness of the wines from this region.

Floral and white fruit notes hold up nicely against vibrant acidity that lasts into a crisp, round finish. Uncomplicated, versatile and deliciously easy-going, this little wine will be perfect for casual dinner parties or meals at home or for picnics.


Dom (aka LeDomduVin)

Info partly taken and edited from the winery website at

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