After years in the vinous equivalent of the broom cupboard, picpoul de pinet has finally made it to the dining room sideboard. This crisp, refreshing white wine from Languedoc is starting to appear on more and more restaurant menus, particularly touted as an accompaniment to fish. At the same time, those who are partial to a glass of white at home are coming to appreciate picpoul as a pleasant alternative to the likes of sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio. Notable for an initial rakish acidity (the name can be translated as ‘lip stinger’) the wine mellows in the mouth, rounding out and revealing bright, fresh flavours of apple, pear, yellow plums and other stone fruit. I find the pear element handy when it comes to assessing quality; the better versions taste of fresh fruit and not of peardrops. An engaging summer sipper, picpoul comes into its own when teamed with oysters, mussels, whitebait and crab – think of it as ‘Southern Muscadet’ and you won’t be far out.
Felines de Jourdan 2012 €12.75 www.winesdirect.ie BRONZE
EW: apples and pears and a touch of lemon and lime – all you’d expect from picpoul. Energising minerality and a pleasing, classy presence.
MM: A classic of the style with a light chalky mineral note mixed with pears, apple, and citrus fruit.
Domaine Combe Rouge 2012 €11.99
Egans, Drogheda, Co Louth and other independents BRONZE
EW: Lots of crisp apple fruit and a livening tinge of pink grapefruit. Great fruit/acid balance from this sound wine from a very savvy co-operative.
MM: Perfect for the end of summer with a refreshing mix of tangy grapefruit, pear, red apple and grapefruit.
Villemarin Blanc de Blanc 2012 www.mitchellandson.com €13.49 SILVER
EW: Intriguing herbal hints (oregano?) on the nose. A melange of pear, apple, stonefruit, and grapefruit makes for quite a complex and very enjoyable wine.
MM: A slightly riper style with good concentration and attractive peach notes alongside the expected red apple and pear, with a fresh lemony finish.
La Croix Gratiot 2012 €13.99 www.donnybrookfair.ie; www.drinkstore.ie; www.fallonandbyrne.com; www.thecorkscrew.ie. BRONZE
EW: With apple, pear and white peach flavours, this wine is sound rather than profound with a weight and depth of flavours distinguishing it from many of the others we tasted.
MM: A very more-ish mix. A fruit salad combining nectarine, Williams pear and red apple. Good length too.