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Red Pineau des Charentes – Not Just for Dessert Wine

Paul-Marie & Fils Red Pineau des Charentes Vieux Fut #8
Price: $79

The words “dessert wine” on a label can be misleading. It conjures images of intricate cut glass tulips filled with syrupy-sweet wine and paired with elaborate confections. But many so-called dessert wines are far more versatile. With a deep chill, Pineau des Charentes’ marriage of sweet, dried fruit flavors, nutty complexity, and balancing acidity will make for elegant drinking in countless settings.

The geographical zone authorized for the production of Pineau des Charentes AOC is practically identical with that for Cognac. But if you’ve never heard of it, the reason is probably due to the fact that ninety percent of the Pineau that’s made in the Charentes region is consumed in the Charentes region. Of the remainder, approximately eighty percent goes to Belgium. There’s precious little Pineau left to export to the rest of the world. Especially a Pineau this special.

Sourced and bottled in minute quantities (760 bottles), Paul-Marie & Fils Red Pineau des Charentes Vieux is made by adding Grande Champagne Cognac (the highest level Cru within Cognac) to lightly fermented sweet grape must from Merlot grapes. No added sugar is allowed in the process, so the grapes must be of the highest quality. It is certified “Vieux”, meaning that, by law, the blend must have been aged in oak casks for a minimum of five years where it develops its stunning complexity. These particular casks came from a cellar in the village Segonzac, the heart of the Grande Champagne cru, where they have been resting for 15 years.

The result is a remarkable drink, colored a rusty scarlet with reflections of copper, and overflowing with aromas of dried berries, maple syrup, and pressed flowers. While it’s a fantastic aperitif (which is how it is used in Cognac country) it will also make an excellent pairing with charcuterie and pâté, all types of cheeses, especially Roquefort and soft, double and triple-crème. Much in the way of Sauternes, anything rich and salty is fair game. Even the common fried chicken will be elevated by a glass of Pineau. Moreover, it makes an impressive gift for the Cognac drinker, cigar smoker, or anyone that appreciates a special bottle of wine.

And you needn’t worry about having to drink the entire bottle immediately after opening. This wine will keep in the refrigerator for months before losing any of its character.

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Posted on 2015.05.14 in France, French Rarities, Saturday Sips


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