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Picpoul De Pinet

Picpoul de Pinet is a sub-appellation of southern France's Languedoc appellation specialising in full-bodied, citrus-scented white wines exclusively from Picpoul grapes.

The area covered by the appellation runs along the southern French coast, separated from the waves of the Mediterranean Sea only by the Bassin de Thau, a lagoon measuring 11 miles (18km) long and three miles (5km) wide. The Picpoul de Pinet title covers the communities of Pinet, Meze, Florensac, Castelnau-de-Guers, Montagnac and Pomerols (not to be confused with Bordeaux's Pomerol).

The climate here is obviously Mediterranean, with long, hot summers and relatively mild winters helping to bring the Picpoul grapes to full phenolic ripeness. There is also a strong marine influence, due to the area's coastal proximity to the Bassin de Thau and the Mediterranean beyond it. This coastal area around Montpellier is famous for its resident flamingos and is one of the birds' most northerly habitats. While many migrate south for winter, some remain here all year round, which demonstrates how mild the weather is in the cooler months.

Although it is a relatively small area, Picpoul de Pinet's landscape is measurably varied from north to south. In the north, the terrain alternates between garrigue (the archetypal Provençal landscape of herb-strewn scrubland on limestone soils) and jagged outcrops of ancient rock. Due to the precise local topography, the maritime influences are much less pronounced than in the vineyards slightly closer to the coast.

In the south, the landscape is more homogeneous, less jagged and more rolling, and opens up directly to the sea. This area is almost exclusively planted with vines, and benefits from the maritime influences of cooling morning and evening breezes. The soils are mostly alluvial, with a high proportion of free-draining sandy types.