Saturday, July 29
Taste pineau d’aunis
3-7 PM $15

Los Angeles natural wine organic biodynamic orange pineau d'aunis
Today we’re tasting five different wines made from the medieval marvel, pineau d’aunis. Pineau d’aunis (“pee-no doh-niece”)? Say the grape’s name out loud and it sounds slightly suspect or even lascivious to the ears of a juvenile Anglophone, but get your mind out of the gutter: the origins of the name are entirely G-rated. Pineau, an alternate spelling of pinot, refers to the variety’s pinecone-shaped clusters, whereas aunis refers to the tiny medieval province of Aunis, which was once situated on the central Atlantic coast of France. So, pineau d’aunis = that grape variety with pinecone shaped clusters that originated (or was favored by) the archaic province of Aunis.

But enough etymology, what about the grape? Other than sharing a morphological feature, pineau d’aunis has zero connection, genetic or organoleptically, to pinot noir. Pineau d’aunis is a unique, pre-modern grape variety that some love and some love to hate. It expresses something essential about the Loire valley, where archaic grape varieties such as menu pineau and fié gris are somehow permitted, if just barely, within an oft-times overbearing straight jacket of appellation regulations, a Cartesian system that vectors in on what’s right and wrong while erasing or simply ignoring what’s historic, specific, and wondrous.

First documented in the 13th century, pineau d’aunis is a grape whose heyday was probably the late middle ages, and although there are still about 1,000 acres of it under cultivation, it will be henceforth forever be consigned to the category of the vestigial and historical oddity. It’s not for everyone, but that’s OK. I don’t like or understand strawberry ice cream, but understand that there are those who do, and accept that it’s a legitimate flavor. For those of us who appreciate pineau d’aunis, we really, really dig it, and the only way to find out if you do is to taste. It’s an untamed, pre-modern grape variety that doesn’t really conform to modern notions of how a red grape must behave. Pineau d’aunis is Janus-faced: one side is light, crunchy, rhubarb-cranberry-sour cherry-white pepper; the other is dark, brooding, and inflected by graphite-y petrichor. Drinking these wines evokes a forested medieval landscape from which you half-expect Robin Hood to emerge. You really cannot grow wealthy by selling pineau d’aunis wine, but a hardy band of vigneron, I call them the Aunisienne, continue to work with it. If you see a wine made from pineau d’aunis, it probably comes an Aunisienne who give a shit about their viticultural patrimony and digs wines made from the grape.

Ludovic Chanson “Ich i Go” Vin de France pét-nat rose NV
Jean-Pierre Robinot “L’as des années folles” Vin de France NV
Dinocheau pineau d’aunis Vin de France 2016
Emile Hérédia “Le Verre des Poètes” Vin de France 2012
La Grapperie “Adonis” Vin de France 2015

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