Thursday, December 30, 2010

Brandy Friday: Paul-Marie Fils 25 Year Pineau de Charentes

Pineau de Charentes is not a common drink in the US. It is a French fortified wine made from blending brandy (usually unaged) and fermented grape must, which is juice made from the the seeds, skins and stems of the grape.

Paul-Marie Fils Pineau de Charentes is unusual in that instead of being made with unaged eau de vie, it is made with Cognac and then further aged. According to David Driscoll's excellent K&L spirits blog, "It was made from Cognac distilled in 1984 and then white wine from 1985 and put into a barrel for 25 years!" A twenty-five year old dessert wine is unusual indeed.

Paul-Marie Fils 25 Year Pineau de Charentes, 17.5% abv, ($80 at K&L).

This stuff has a very nice aroma. The first thing I get on the nose is Cognac, a sweet one with raisins and other dried fruit, then behind it some of the dessert wine notes that give it a fresh and sweet scent. The flavor opens very sweet, but it's much more complex than most fortified wines I've had, with some of that aged Coganc flavor integrated into the sweet wine. I taste plums and other stone fruit along with the sweet wine flavors and some nice Christmas-type spice. The late palate to finish is very port-like.

This is much sweeter than what I usually drink, but it's quite a pleasant dessert wine with some real depth. I tried it both neat and chilled, but much preferred it chilled, which muted a bit of the sweetness.

If you are a dessert or fortified wine fan, you should definitely check this stuff out.


David D said...

YES! You bought one of those! They are long gone so enjoy it while it lasts. I'm working on getting him to import another similar barrel.

NP said...

Pineau is indeed drunk chilled in the Cognac region; despite being a fortified wine made along the same principle as Port for example, it asks for a Sauternes treatment: 50F or so...
Plus at this temp, it ll keep at least for a good 4 weeks.

David D my man, I heard you & already have a few ideas. Give me a few more month - time is really key if one wants to do things right - you ll love it...

sku said...

NP (Nicolas?), thanks for your comments. It may technically last four weeks chilled, but once I chilled and started serving it on Christmas night, it didn't last four guests couldn't get enough.

Also, we drank it for dessert, but it seemed like it would pair well with a foie gras course as well.

Anyway, good stuff. Thanks!

NP said...

Sku, thx for the kind words.

Traditionally young pineau is drunk as an aperitif, since chilling it offsets the sweetness. People in the Cognac region will use young pineau to fill up a half cantaloupe and eat this dish as an appetizer. Of course, old Pineau can be used, just depends on how one wants to splurge on one's meal...

Foie gras is a very good call, though i tend to move towards some with a tad more acidity and less residual sweetness. I ve always wanted to see what a great manzanilla or may be amontillado could do with the foie (like what the boys at Equipo Navazos do. David D, got any?) - but that's just me, i digress.

Back to Pineau, blue cheese is pretty cool - so is cognac itself (take a piece of roquefort, dig a hole, fill it up with cognac, let the cheese absorb it, take some bread, eat) - as well as hard aged cheeses (aged comte etc...).

Then desserts, of course: dark chocolate, anything with fruits - lemon tart or something with grapefruit is really cool etc...

Enjoy the new year