Monday, May 3, 2010

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 week-end, it is time again to focus a bit more on crisp Whites, thirst quencher Rosé(s) and light, fresh Reds. Among my favorite whites for Spring and Summer, Picpoul de Pinet wines are surely great contenders: fresh, vivid, light, uncomplicated and versatile, and more importantly totally inoffensive.

Yes, inoffensive, because I think that in comparison, a white stinking of non-integrated new oak and full of alcohol above 13.5-14 degrees is really offensive to me, especially when it is humid and “suffocatingly” hot in the street of New York.

“Les Vignobles Montagnac” makes a tremendous Picpoul de Pinet for a tremendous price; which also 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 the greatest white wine region of Languedoc: a limestone plateau rising sunny covered with vineyards and fragrant bush ordered, dotted with high pine forests.

Picpoul de Pinet AOC only produces white wines from the Picpoul Blanc, an indigenous white grape variety also used in the Rhone Valley. Its name means "lip-stinger" and refers to the high acidity of the grapes. Although Picpoul Blanc is the most well known of the three, it also has two siblings that generate a bit less attention: Picpoul Noir and Picpoul Gris, but that are also used in Languedoc and Rhone.

Les Vignobles Montagnac

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

Les Vignobles Montagnac wine cooperative was built in Montagnac in 1937. It soon became the cooperative for the six other surrounding municipalities as well, covering Montagnac and a few more surrounding villages. The cooperative produces wines from about 2,250 hectares at its two sites of Montagnac and Loupian.

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

On these diverse "terroirs" (combination of soil and microclimate), Les Vignobles Montagnac produces equally diverse wines. Its range comprises the controlled origin wines of 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 confer 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).

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

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


LeDom du Vin

Info partly taken and edited from the winery website at

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