La Chenille Picarèla
LA CHENILLE PICARÈLA
Picpoul is located in the Hérault department. In France Hérault is particularly known for its many legends and festivals that date back to ancient times. Often celebrations are village specific and each village has its own emblem or totem that is celebrated. Totems parade throughout the villages accompanied with music, dance and a lot of merriment. Totems are part of ancient traditions and usually related to a local legend. The village of Picpoul has its own totem, it is a caterpillar called Lo Porquet, the ‘seductress caterpillar’. The story goes that after multiple invasions from a hungry and destructive Lo Porquet caterpillar in the Pinet vineyards, the villagers only found one solution to neutralize the enemy and that was to ‘totemize’ it. The totem serves to celebrate the caterpillar; the animal is dressed up and follows a processional dance, called ‘Attila’s Step’, accompanied with a lot of singing and dancing throughout the village. The happy caterpillar wriggles left and right, performing full belly rolls called ‘la bidoussado’, the animal is gradually overwhelmed by the dancing ‘bufetaïres’ and retreats. Since Lo Porquet is celebrated and has become a totem, the ravenous caterpillar was never seen in the vineyards again. Lo Porquet celebration takes place every year in July during the Ormarine festivities.
Lo Porquet Totem is grey and green, 12.6 meters long, it has 14 legs, 6 rings and a mouth with large teeth.
La Chenille Picarèla is inspired from Lo Porquet; Chenille is the French for caterpillar while Picarèla stands for ‘artful’ in Occitan (Langue d’Oc).
Stretching along the Thau lagoon to the west of the Mediterranean’s Golfe de Lyon lays Picpoul de Pinet. It is the largest white wine producing area in the Languedoc. The appellation forms a triangle between the town of Agde, Pézenas and Sète. It is located on a sun exposed limestone plateau covered with aromatic garrigue. Garrique is the coastal vegetation found along the Mediterranean coast, it is made of small aromatic bushes that are draught resistant. Lavender, sage, rosemary and wild thyme are some of the most common plants found in the garrigue.
The AOC Picpoul de Pinet spreads over 1 300ha.
The ancient Roman road ,"Via Domitienne", runs right through the area dividing it into two distinctive terroirs:
To the north: Garrigue, pines and vines alternate with rocky outcrops, the land dating from the Cretaceous period (+/- 100m years) and Miocene (+/-15m years) era.
Here the climate is hotter and more humid than on the coastal strip, with abundant Mediterranean type of vegetation.
To the south: The landscape is flatter and consists of weathered, sandy and stony soils crisscrossed with deep furrows and low hills sweeping straight to the sea. Vines are the only plants can grow here with a climate tempered by the sea breeze and mist. The soil washed down during the Pliocene (+/- 2m years) era.
The climate is Mediterranean with low rainfall, 600mm a year, mild winters, hot and dry summers. The influence from the sea limits high temperature variations between the day and the night. In summertime during the day the sea breeze cools down the otherwise hot temperatures and at night the lagoon protects the area from the sudden drop of temperature.
PICPOUL DE PINET
White Picpoul is one of the oldest Languedoc grapes. Picpoul (also spelt Piquepoul) has been grown near the Thau Lagoon for centuries. It was mentioned in the region as early as 1618.
Picpoul de pinet may come from six villages, namely; Pinet, Pomérols, Castelnau-de-Guers, Montagnac, Mèze, Florensac.
It grows well in dry climates but tends to rot when humid; the sea breeze from the Mediterranean, which blows throughout summer and autumn, helps prevent rot. Summers are very dry and the fruits grow in drought like conditions. In autumn the climate becomes more humid and the grapes fill with moisture to ripen perfectly just before harvest.
The Thau lagoon is famous for its oysters and Picpoul de Pinet is the ideal wine to pair with. Picpoul produces a fresh and relatively acidic wine; the acid neutralizes the salt and iodine in shellfish and other crustaceans, for the same reasons it is also excellent with rich cheeses and charcuterie.