A Wine Lover's Weekly Guide To $10 Wines - A Mediterranean White Wine

I'm sure that you know about the beauty of the French Mediterranean, an area affectionately called the "Midi". In opposition to Tuscany, this fantastic region is not particularly well known for fine wines. Many local wines are roses, which are best consumed on a terrace overlooking the sea. The grape Picpoul de Pinet is mostly grown in the Languedoc region of France, bordering on the Mediterranean Sea. It is both blended and made into varietal wines.

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Wine Reviewed Terre a Verre les Roches Picpoul de Pinet, 2005 13% alcohol about $10
Let's start with the marketing materials. Picpoul de Pinet is a grape variety that is a perfect example of the Mediterranean climate in a bottle. Expect hints of citrus, curry, spice, garrigue, and floral in a racy/fresh frame. It is an excellent palate refresher or would match a grilled prawn dish. And now for my review.

I started by sipping this wine alone. It was acidic and refreshing providing a note of honeysuckle. I tasted it with barbecued chicken thighs, French fries spiced with rosemary and garlic, accompanied by green beans cooked with crushed tomatoes. The wine was clearly acidic. It tasted of honeysuckle and citrus with sweet notes. Bizarre, it was sometimes short and sometimes long but always palate cleansing and sometimes metallic.

The second meal involved baked chicken breast in a potato puree, accompanied by green beans in a tomato sauce. I apologize for the double chicken tasting. I did try this wine with shepherd's pie but because of some dental work the tasting was painful and not at all informative. Anyway, with the chicken breast the wine was lightly sweet with even a taste of honey and refreshing acidity. The Picpoul was moderately long and mouth-filling, quite a pleasant match.

The next meal consisted of an omelet with a commercial artichoke dip and Japanese rice crackers. I felt lip-puckering acidity. The citrus shadow of the wine lasted a long time. The wine was definitely muted by the acidic dip. Interestingly enough, it came out the best with the rice crackers. Later during the meal the wine softened. It became sweet once more in the presence of Wasabi peas.

I finished the tasting with two cheeses. The first cheese was a Provolone. The wine tasted fairly fruity and had good length and acidity. This was better than an average wine and cheese pairing. The marbled Cheddar succeeded in muting the wine, in particular its acidity. This pairing was not nearly as good as the preceding one.

Final verdict. Mixed feelings. There are lots of good $10 wines out there. I don't see the point of returning to this one. But maybe I'm too harsh. For $10 what can you usually expect from an expensive wine producer such as France?

Levi Reiss is the author or co-author of ten computer and Internet books, but really would rather just drink fine German or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Check out his global wine website is http://www.theworldwidewine.com with a weekly column reviewing $10 wines and new sections writing about (theory) and tasting (practice) organic and kosher wines.