Pineau des Charentes, fortified wine styles to suit every palate29-06-2017
Fortified wine in white, red and rosé, Pineau des Charentes is styled to suit every palate
The history of Pineau des Charentes, or “Pineau” has been intrinsically linked to Cognac since its early beginnings. Today it is the darling of fortified wine aficionados.
Rich in liquid history…
So Pineau des Charentes shares part of its history with Cognac, and even has a legend to its name. In 1589, during a particularly abundant harvest, a grower from Charente accidently poured grape must into a barrel containing Cognac eau-de-vie before storing it away in one of the cellars on the estate.
Some years later, he discovered the barrel and its magical contents and the rest is history. From this clear and sunny liquid, Pineau des Charentes was born. Since that day, the growers adopt the same traditions and skilled expertise to craft this unique, quality product.
AOC since 1945
Appellation d’origine since 1935, Pineau des Charentes was granted Appellation d’Origine Controlée status on 12th October 1945. The appellation area stretches across the Cognac vineyards and essentially covers the regions of Charente-Maritime and Charente, together with several districts in Deux Sevres and Dordogne. The appellation enjoys a unique geographical situation and climate, where land meets ocean; with mild winters and abundant rainfall, and plenty of summer sunshine to promote excellent ripeness in the grapes.
Strong export foundations
Today, the renown of France’s leading AOC fortified wine reaches far beyond France’s frontiers. Exports account for 25% of total sales, with around 20,000hl in volume. Pineau des Charentes continues to gain new ground, exporting some 2.7 million bottles outside France. With a presence in some 40 markets, Belgium leads the way in imports, followed by Canada and the US.
Did you know?
White Pineau is aged for at least 18 months, 12 months of which is spent in oak barrels. Red or Rosé Pineau is aged not quite as long, for at least 12 months, of which 9 months spent in oak. More mature examples of Pineau des Charentes are also made: “old” and “very old” Pineau des Charentes are aged at least 5 and 10 years respectively.
Red, white and rosé to suit every palate
Pineau des Charentes comes in a joyous array of different styles. The white version is a delicate, refined wine, with its yellow-straw, old gold, tinged with profound reflections, is made from Ugni blanc, Folle blanche, Colombard, Semillon, Sauvignon blanc, Montils, Meslier Saint-François, Jurançon blanc, Merlot blanc, Merlot noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet franc. With its concentrated, elegant bouquet, revealing lovely complexity, notes of limeblossom and fleur de vigne interweave with the entire aromatic spectrum of fresh fruits (peach, plums and figs), dried fruits (almonds, prunes and quince jelly), together with a hint of vanilla and honey.
Oak ageing imparts unparalleled aromatic intensity to the old and very old Pineau blanc, together with highly unique organoleptic characters, such as “rancio”, which offers honey, vanilla, prunes, cinnamon and nutty notes on both the nose and palate.
Rosé and red Pineau are a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Merlot noir. Light and elegant, characterised by aromas of freshly picked fruits such as raspberry, blackcurrant and cherry. Intense and generous on the nose, exuding an explosion of freshly picked fruits, enhanced by aromas of gentle spices, liquorice, cinnamon and vanilla. Initially soft on the palate, offering generous, intense notes of red fruit and excellent lingering aromatics.
Food and wine pairing
White Pineau des Charentes, with its floral aromas, is a fabulous partner to poultry, pork and fish dishes in sauce, or with pineapple tart for dessert. Young Pineau is the perfect match to melon, while old and very old Pineau pair well with foie gras and blue cheeses. It also excels with scallops, mussels, sea bass and other noble fish.
Red or rosé Pineau work well with game or goats’ cheese, and also enhance the aromas of strawberries, plum tart or sorbet. Chocolate-based desserts make a brilliant match with old or very old rosé Pineau des Charentes.
How to serve Pineau des Charentes
Pineau des Charentes should ideally be served chilled, at 8 – 10°C, in a tulip-shaped glass to enhance its colour and bouquet and reveal its rich aromas in all their true glory.
Storing Pineau des Charentes
Once Pineau has been bottled, its character will not evolve, so there is no particular advantage or disadvantage in cellaring, as long as the bottle is kept upright. Once opened, it is best stored upright in the fridge with the top on.
Which Pineau when?
Young Pineau des Charentes is best enjoyed in the aperitif slot. Serve with fruit juice, or even tonic water and a few sprigs of mint.
Top tips from the growers
“Each Pineau is special in my eyes. Each has its own individual qualities to suit a particular drinking occasion. The rich character of the young wines comes from their vibrancy, their refreshing candour and the fruit which clearly shines. Just like man in fact.”
Pascal Favre, Pineau des Charentes grower and producer in Saint-Pierre d’Oleron. Here on this famous island, his family-run, 42ha estate is devoted in part to the production of Pineau.
Nothing’s best than a cocktail to reveal aromas in an alcohol, discover our recipe here.
Find out more at Pineau.fr