Words by: Simon Difford
Available in both red and white styles, Pineau des Charentes is a fortified wine from the Charentes (Cognac) region of France, with its own appellation contrôlée. Produced during the autumn harvest, Pineau des Charentes is made by blending partially fermented grape juice with a one-year-old cognac from the same producer and then maturing the blend in oak casks.
White Pineau is made from the Charente regions white grape varieties: Ugni Blanc, Colombard and Folle Blanche and matured for at least 12 months in French oak casks. Red Pineau is made from red grapes: Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon and matured for at least eight months in French oak barrels.
There are hundreds of small producers of Pineau, each with their own brand name. Many of the big Cognac houses also make the fortified wine.
Produced by Marnier Lapostolle, better known for Grand Marnier, the quality of this pineau is made possible by the house's huge cognac reserves, base in the heart of the cognac region (Château de Bourg-Charente) and management of casks, which starts by the company purchasing oak trees. Honey, prune and pear fruit, cinnamon, almond and citrus fruit.
This pineau is made from ugni blanc and colombard grapes, the fermentation of which was cut short by the addition of cognac so retaining some of the grapes natural sugars. This is then aged a minimum of ten years in oak casks previously used to age cognac. Dark honey and prune fruit.
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