Pineau de Charentes, the baby brother of cognac (grape juice added to spirit), is enjoyed by a growing number of people.  But in the 1980’s a young Breton man on holiday in the Charente came across an oddity he’d not heard of before – sparkling pineau.  It etched a deep memory within him and, ten years later when he was back in the area, he attempted to buy something similar.  He’d even memorised the name – Moussant du Planty.

But his searching was to no avail, and the man, now not quite so young, had to wait a further 20 years before he was to once again come across this bubbling delight at a market in Saintes in the Charentes Maritime.

Sparkling Pineau

Nowadays the situation has changed somewhat – and sparkling pineau, often incorrectly known as pineau champagnisé, is sold widely in the region.  The production method is rigidly adhered to – five year old pineau is gasified for bottling.  The age of the drink reduces the sweetness, and the addition of carbon dioxide allows the natural flavours to develop.

Laurent Lablanche, a pineau producer under the farming group Groupement Agricole d’Exploitation en Commun or GAEC, sells round 3000 bottles of sparkling pineau per year, which accounts for around 10% of his total pineau sales.

Mr Lablanche has tried to get his sparkling pineau into the nationwide supermarket franchises – but abandoned this direction in favour of direct sales.  He counts the Paris Saint-Germain footballer, Sylvain Armand among his clients.

Despite the slow increase in popularity, pineau is still only a small market.  Of the 5,000 growers in the region of Cognac, only 600 of them produce Pineau.

Sources: www.sudouest.fr
Pic: labulledessaveurs.fr

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Jacki has been with Cognac Expert from virtually the beginning. She's the senior editor of the blog, and has spent much of her life living in rural France. Today she's based back in the UK, where she splits her working life between writing for Cognac Expert and working as a Paramedic at a large regional hospital.

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