The story of how Pineau des Charentes ever came about is similar to many other gastronomic discoveries, insofar as it was discovered quite by mistake.
It all started in 1589 when a winemaker from Charente poured grape juice for fermentation into a barrel without realising it still had some brandy left in it.
Noticing that this particular barrel was not fermenting at all, he left it to one side.
It was only a few years later that he came across the barrel again and noticed that the liquid it contained was clear and had taken on a subtle, sweet, and sugary flavour.
Thus Pineau des Charentes was born.
Pineau is now made according to know-how dating back 4 centuries and the end product may either be white or pink.
The grape varieties used for Pineau Blanc (white Pineau) are Trebbiano, Folle Blanche, Colombard, Sémillon, Sauvignon, Montils, Meslier Saint François, Jurançon Blanc, Merlot Blanc, Merlot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Noir.
Pineau Blanc is a well-balanced, fine, delicate wine with notes of honey, fruit, and spices.
Pineau Rosé is made using the Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec grape varieties.
The frank and supple attack of this wine gives way to the full generosity and power of its notes of red fruits, which linger long in the mouth.
The 'Vieux' (old), 'Très Vieux' (very old), and 'Extra Vieux' (extra old), designations of Pineau Blanc and Pineau Rosé can only be handed out at the approval of the 'Commission de Dégustation du Syndicat d'Appellation', the body that controls the ageing of this product.
To receive the 'Vieux' designation, the Pineau must have aged for at least five years in an oak barrel, and for the 'Très Vieux' designation, this period is increased to 10 years.
Comité National du Pineau des Charentes
112, Avenue Victor Hugo, 16121 Cognac cedex., France
Tel.: +33 (0) 5 45 32 09 27