In praise of Pineau d’Aunis

There really are some amazing, virtually unknown varietals out there. Take Pineau d’Aunis, for instance.

I’ve had a chance to taste this rare varietal (a little over 400 hectares cultivated, only in the Loire region) three times over the last few months, at Pullman, in Montreal, and at L’Utopie, in Quebec City. In both places, the wines were from Jasnières-region winemaker Jean-Pierre Robinot under the label L’Ange Vin.

The wines were truly remarkable and completely surprising. Intense yet subtle, pale yet earthy and concentrated. Like some pinot noirs (though they are not related), they tend to be pale wines, even close to a rosé. Yet the Regard du Loir cuvée I had most recently was intense with underbrush aromas and flavors of dried orange with a nice touch of red fruit, all with surprising persistence and length. It went great with some smoked bison, and I’m sure it would work well with some trout or poultry as well.

Mind you, although this varietal can be used in wines of the Anjou appellation or in Crémant de Loire sparkling wines, it is vinified in a remarkably serious and uncompromising style by Robinot, a fiery proponent of natural, organic wines. Whether you like it or not, it won’t leave you indifferent. Wine never should.