According to the legend, the Pineau des Charentes is not only the fruit of the vine, but also the fruit of chance. In 1589, in a remote area of the Cognac region lived a winemaker, simple and serious man, having the heart to work. One day during harvest, he accidentally poured grape must in cognac barrels. Furious at his clumsiness, he put the cask away in a corner of the cellar.
A few years later, when the harvest was abundant and he needed all his barrels to host the precious juice, he went to recover the cast aside barrel. About to throw its contents, what was his amazement to discover a wonderful liquid, clear and golden, fruity and heady, sunny as the land of Charentes. Pineau des Charentes was born!
By 1935, the Pineau des Charentes gets the status of Appellation d’Origine (AO) fortified wine. It has the French label "AOC" since 1945 and the European label PDO (Protected Designation of Origin).
Pineau des Charentes is obtained by mixing the must, obtained by pressing grapes, with cognac at 60-72 ABV. The Cognac must be distilled the previous year.
Pineau des Charentes is necessarily obtained after an assembly in French oak barrels for about 75% of grape juice and 25% of Cognac. After aging, the analysis should reveal an alcohol content of between 16 ° and 22 °, and a sugar content of 125g of grapes per liter minimum.
The designation requires that the grape must and the Cognac come from the same vineyard, the same terroir and the knowhow of the men passed from generation to generation since 1589. Only after one year of aging the beverage is able to get the appellation Pineau des Charentes, but it still must be approved by a tasting committee appointed by the producers. At this stage, about 30% of production is postponed. If tasting is positive, the Commission, in liaison with the union of producers, grants approval to the product and issue its stamp.
Traditionally consumed as an aperitif, many gastronomes noted that its roundness goes well with foie gras and its mellowness and sweetness complements some fruits like cantaloupe and strawberries. Pineau also makes unexpected combinations: Its fruity taste is beautiful with oysters. Generally Pineau des Charentes is served at 54 °F (average cellars temperature) although we recommend drinking it cooler between 41 °F and 43 °F.