Summer's Perfect Red: Chillable Pineau d'Aunis, A Loire Hidden Gem
Everyone has their “a-ha!” moment wine. For the luckiest among us, it’s the first sip of great Nebbiolo or Burgundy. For one member of the Flatiron Wines team, though, it was a most obscure grape — Pineau d’Aunis.
Pineau in the running for the perfect summer wine, a red that’s chillable and punchy, yet markedly different and more complex than the average glou glou offerings at your local wine bar. It’s red-fruited with high-toned fruits like cranberry and pomegranate and even rhubarb, accented by its hallmark flavors of white pepper and citrusy grapefruit or blood orange. It’s both delicate and intense at different turns.
It’s an ancient variety of the Loire Valley, but over the centuries the acreage dedicated to it has shrunk, due to a series of misfortunes ranging from phylloxera to the construction of the Paris-Bordeaux railroad (which resulted in the destruction of many vineyards). Considering the grape’s unique delights, and the many talented vignerons making wine with it, we think it’s time for a Pineau comeback.
Emmanuel Haget is one of those talented winemakers, farming organically in the up-and-coming appellation of Saumur Puy-Notre-Dame. Emmanuel was a geophysicist for 20 years before establishing his domaine, and wanting to stake his claim on the land — and leave it in better shape than how he found it — he learned how to farm, then was able to purchase some vines in 2016. His first vintage was 2017.
He works extensively with Pineau d’Aunis, blending it with Cabernet Franc in a few cuvées, but we were especially impressed with his 100% Pineau wine called Palabres. Combining the ethos of natural wine with scientific precision makes for clean, vibrant wines — we only wish all natural winemakers were so logical in their approach.
Emmanuel Haget, Pineau d'Aunis "Palabres", 2022 $26.99
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