Summer Whites

Minerally, crisp Picpoul is turning heads this season

The first day of summer begins on Sunday, but don't go grabbing that bottle of rosé just yet. Restaurants all over town are putting Picpoul, a lesser-known Rhône grape variety, on their lists. It's the perfect white wine for hot days ahead.

From Pinet, a village in the Languedoc region of France (look for Picpoul de Pinet on the labels), the crisp, acid-bright wines bring tons of citrus fruit and minerality to the glass, and make a good alternative to Chablis or Muscadet for chilled or grilled seafood. But what we love most is the value: Bottles often retail for under $15.

Susan Brink, co-owner of West Hollywood's Venokado wine and gift shop, says for the price Picpoul will impress any wine aficionado, but also tempt the novice who rarely strays from Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.

Here are four to find around town:

2007 Mas De Felines Picpoul de Pinet ($13.50) With floral aromas and hints of anise, Brink is currently "obsessed" with this wine. "The racy acidity just leaves you wanting another sip." Venokado, 7714 Fountain Ave., West Hollywood; 323-850-1600 or venokado.com

2008 Château Font-Mars Picpoul de Pinet ($12) Find this flinty, fruity and juicy wine at Nook Bistro (try it with the seared Barramundi) and Barbrix (with deviled eggs with boquerones). It flies off the shelves at local shops. Colorado Wine Company, 2305 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles; 323-478-1985 or cowineco.com

2008 Arnaud-Gaujal Château de Pinet Picpoul de Pinet ($15) Crisp, floral and bone-dry, some call this the "Sancerre of the South." Silverlake Wine, 2395 Glendale Blvd., Silver Lake; 323-662-9024 or silverlakewine.com 

2007 Cave de Pomérols Picpoul de Pinet Hugues Beaulieu ($36) One of the classics, this pale yellow, acidic wine (pictured) with grapefruit and lime flavors is a natural match for a plate of chilled oysters. Church & State, 1850 Industrial St., Downtown; 213-405-1434