2017 Domaine Julie Benau Picpoul de Pinet
Region: Picpoul de Pinet < Languedoc < France
Grapes: Picpoul de Pinet
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified organic/biodynamic farming, gabbro soils, aged in stainless steel; méthode ancestrale; no added SO2
Winemaker: Julie Benau
The 16th century farmhouse estate in the Languedoc’s coastal backwoods was purchased by Julie's parents in 1980. At first, they sold all their grape production to the local co-op, but when daughter Julie came back home in 1999, she encouraged them to start making some of their own wine as well. Fast forward 20 years, and Julie has not only taken over, but has made a name for herself with her envelope-pushing, often experimental, and always super low-intervention wines -- an anomaly in this big, industrial region, where vineyards grow along the lagoons that are home to zillions of oyster beds. Given that the word Picpoul itself translates to “stings the lip”, you might guess that her Picpoul is bright and acidic, with lots of tart citrus and grass. But what sets it apart is the slight funk and salt on the nose, like a whiff of oysters just coming off the boat in the marina, and on the palate (iodine!), along with some unexpected flesh on the bones (ripe peaches and pears!). Sort of like a cross between Muscadet and a white Cotes du Rhone. Like Muscadet, Picpoul de Pinet is a natural choice for oysters and other raw delights (um, this bottle literally has a pen and ink sketch of an oyster on the front label). Though personally, I would drink it with just about anything that would benefit from a splash of lemon. Wakes up the palate in much the same way. Ditch the usual suspects and make this your new, go-to "crisp white wine". So much cooler.