Enjoying a Lip-Stinger

Posted in Uncategorized by EVWG on the December 1st, 2006

picpoul.jpgI popped into a wine shop the other day in sort of a hurry. I had multiple bags of ingredients in hand from an amazing new find called the Essex Street Market. This place is amazing. It is an indoor market from a bygone era (1930’s) when LaGuardia was mayor. There were so many vendor pushcarts on the streets of New York City that police and firefighters were having a hard time getting around. So the mayor created indoor markets so the vendors could permanently set up shop. This market as far as I know is the only one that has been brought back into existence. It has everything from butchers to fishmongers to local produce. There are a couple of serious cheese mongers in there as well as a kosher wine shop, a barber shop a tailor and a restaurant. This is where I will be going for my menus at home from now on. It is a bit of a walk but it is so worth it.
Ok, back to the point. I was in a bit of a hurry but as always with me as busy as I might be when I walk into a wine shop the world slows down a little and calm washes over me. A smile forms on my face and I begin to just stroll and stare and soak it all in. I had my mind set on a red but when I thought about it I realized it was Monday and my wife, around this time, was just ending one of the worst days of the week for public school teachers dealings with kids besides Fridays and she gravitates more towards the white wine. So white wine it was. Now, because of the time constraint I was in I knew that when I got home I would have to start cooking immediately to be done in time for when my wife got home. And when I am cooking I like to sip the wine that I will be having with dinner just to relax me and contemplate it while in the Zen-mode of food preparation. Therefore there was no time for buying white off the shelf and hoping that I could chill it before the food was ready. I needed it cold now.
Fortunately this particular wine shop has a pretty good size white wine cooler. Actually now that I think about it, it might be one of the largest I have seen. Also because of time I didn’t have the luxury of browsing the different regions on the shelves and going to the cooler to see if it was there and then back and forth again. So I just went up and down the rows of cold whites, which were separated generally by country and found myself in the region I have been in for a while now, France. I have only tried a couple of serious French whites and they were spectacular but I have been with people that really know their French whites and I am not even sure how much they cost. They were amazing but could have an astronomical price. I will look into that soon because one of them from Alsace was probably the sexiest white wine I have ever had and I want to write about it but if it costs an arm and a leg than there’s not really a place for it on this blog other than an honorable mention.
Anyway I set my sights on something I had never seen before. It was a white form the Languedoc called Picpoul de Pinet. And it was eleven dollars with tax. Well at this time my other worldly demeanor of leaving the world outside while in a wine shop was quickly being taken over by Father Time and it was time to go. So without knowing too much about this wine (this particular shop isn’t so good at being on top of their customers unless it’s time to be rung up) I paid my eleven and chugged on home to cook and sip and think and chill.
Before I talk about the wine I want to say that I did not choose the right meal for it. I went in to this whole thing thinking of hearty fall dinner with rustic red but I love my wife and the thought of her chillin’ with a refreshing glass of white just felt right. So I won’t be talking about the food. I will mention though that I will be making the same dish again and will do a rustic red and get really into it but for now let’s talk white. Languedoc has twelve or so appellations and I am not too familiar with them just yet but the appellation this wine comes from is the Coteaux de Languedoc. I did some research on this wine and what I found was pretty interesting. The producer of this 2005 white is Domaine Gaujal Saint Bon, a mother and daughter team who apparently run a pretty tight ship and are very focused on bringing their local varietal into greatness. The grape is called picpoul (apparently derived from two French words, one meaning “lip” and the other meaning “stinger”) and the area in which the Guajals live is actually a sub-appellation of Coteaux de Languedoc by the name of Picpoul de Pinet. They keep their yields low and rest the Picpoul on the lees for longer than most of the producers in the area and are aged in stainless steel. If this wine had any of the qualities of other French whites that I have had it was going to be a good day knowing I had another go to wine.
I popped the bottle and had at it. The color of this wine is a nice pale hay if that is such a term and when swirled it clung to the glass pretty well probably indicating the effect of the lengthy rest on the lees. The initial nose was what I have been loving about French white wine. It had a good dose of minerality and slight hint of fruit. But more than that it had balance. I mean it really had balance and that was indicated just on the nose. Nothing was overwhelming. Yes, I did say that there was a good dose of wet rock, minerality but it was so intertwined with the mild fruit it was almost seamless. The first sip confirmed this wines harmony. It was a great wine and the fact that this was only eleven bucks made me want to dance a jig (I didn’t of course because I was listening to some Stravinsky. Now, if I had had on some Jay-Z or Talib Kweli things would have been different). The mouth feel was very smooth and crisp with mild acidity that was present but muted in a good way. I think the Guajals were speaking to me through the wine. See, they were saying, that is why we rest the wine on the lees for a long time. They were trying to keep the acidity in check and it worked. I wonder what other Picpouls with a different approach might taste like. Maybe more steely? I‘ll have check it out. The minerality carried through from the nose to the palate and added to the unique roundness to this wine. And that roundness held as the wine came to room temperature. My wife was really into this nice little lip-stinger and saved the last drops of the glass letting the slight aromas of deep citrus to form, folding into the fruit and sitting underneath the minerals dancing around with out a care (well at least they danced a jig. Next time I will join in).
If I had to do it again I would have had this wine with some sort of fish dinner. I love halibut and skate and they would do wonders for this wine. Also lobster would be a good choice. I don’t think this is necessarily a cheese wine but then again the cheese I chose was a bit hearty and pungent. For all of you out there reading my rants please go and pick this wine up. Look it up on or just head down to the East Village and pick it up at Discovery Wines. You just can’t beat a balanced French white wine for eleven bucks. Hurry though, I might be buying them up. Just kidding…maybe not. Cheers!

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