The Summer months are the best time of the year to consider the cool and refreshing Pineau des Charentes - a drink that has found favour with all those who taste the magical richness.
There is no official record of how the drink first came about but the common belief is that it was first made in the sixteenth century. Legend has it that Pineau was created when a winemaker accidently dropped some grapes into a barrel which contained some brandy. The resulting taste after it had aged was found to be so good that it became a regular practice and a new drink was formed.
The most common type of Pineau is white and made from the indigenous grape varieties such as ugni blanc, folle blanche, sauvignon and chardonnay. The Charente also grows cabernet sauvignon and merlot, found in many of the great clarets from nearby Bordeaux. The rules are that the eau de vie and grape juice (or “must”) have to come from the same producer and the resulting mixture is aged in their cellars. Most of the Pineau is aged from anything between three and ten years, but some have been kept in their oak casks for more than twenty years. There are even a few vintage Pineau’s available now, the finest of them being the 1995 from Beaulon which was aged in casks from Chateau d’Yquem.