Thursday, February 07, 2008

Grape Variety #92: Pineau d'Aunis

It's pink. It has bubbles. It's under $15. It's Pineau d'Aunis.

It's what?

Pineau d'Aunis is a red grape variety that is native to the Loire. Popular in the late medieval period among those who could afford it, Pineau d'Aunis is relatively obscure today. With spicy flavors inflected with what some call piney and others graphite notes. The grape can also make a sparkling wine, which is even harder to find than the still reds made with this variety. In my hunt for the seldom-sipped to fill out my Wine Century, this was definitely a grape on my "must taste" list.

Vincent Girault, the winemaker at the biodynamic and organic Chateau Gaillard, makes just such a wine, and when I had the chance to buy it from Garagiste back in June, I jumped at the chance. Doktor Weingolb has had a Cab Franc made my this maker, and Girault also makes two sparklers, a NV Brut and this NV Rose Brut. I've had both, and definitely prefer the rose. As usual with the biodynamic wines I've tasted, I found that this wine had a nice mineral twang as you swallowed the wine.

The NV Chateau Gaillard Cuvee Charlette Voyant was a dry rose sparkler with very good QPR. (Garagiste, $11.84; unable to find this one online at any merchant). The wine had aromas of those tiny little European wild strawberries which are always a bit tart. Accompanying the strawberries in the flavors was a pleasant creamy note and a bit of stone in the finish. When you poured the wine there was lots of frothy mousse/foam, and a relatively large bubble or bead. Still, it was a great sipper, especially for early spring, and a definite conversation piece.

I know lots of folks are looking for sparklers for next week's celebrations, so if you are on the hunt for a wine to share with your loved one on Valentine's Day, ask your favorite merchant if they stock a sparkling wine from the Loire. You may not be able to find a biodynamic Pineau d'Aunis based sparkling wine, but you still may find something with great QPR.


rgustafson said...

Can't wait until you hit 100. You're really pushing the envelope with some of this nonsense, that really has no bearing on what most of us are interested in drinking.

Dr. Debs said...

Around Valentine's Day, no one is interested in drinking pink sparkling wine? Sorry, rgustafson, but that's just not so. Most people don't know what's in their sparkling roses, so here's one that may have passed folks by. If I'd labeled this "Valentine's Sparkler" and not mentioned the grape would it have been more interesting to you?

Taster A said...

Interesting comment on the Biodynamic wines being mineral. Taster B and I appreciate vineyards that are Biodynamic producers. We find them to be very expressive. For those interested, I was reading in Wines and Vines this morning that has a comprehensive list of Biodynamic producers.

On the other side, tasting these obscure wines from Italy is very rewarding, isn’t it?

Dr. Debs said...

That's a great list, Taster A. Thanks for posting the link. I do think it's rewarding, in at least 2 ways: first you widen your knowledge of wine; second, with the weaker dollar, the more well-known varieties are creeping up in price while the obscure remain affordable. They're good wines, too!