Wine Profile: Picpoul
Picpoul or Piquepoul is an ancient varietal predominantly grown in the south of France. It is usually made in its white wine form, though there is also a Picpoul Gris and a Picpoul Noir. But, blanc is the most common form planted and produced. The name means “lip-stinger” as it is well known for its bold citrus flavors, coupled with racy acidity, which makes this bright white a welcome addition to any white blend.
Picpoul Blanc is actually known by several different names, depending on where the grape is grown. In the Loire Valley, it is known as Folle Blanche and in Languedoc, it is known as Picpoul de Pinet. Made from the indigenous white grape Piquepoul, Picpoul de Pinet is known for its bright acidity. Sea breezes from the Mediterranean help control the heat, ensuring the grapes retain their bright, fresh flavor.
Very few places grow Picpoul Blanc. In Rhone, they use it for blending as one of the 13 permitted varieties in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. It was also was much more popular before phylloxera struck the vineyards of Europe. From that point forward, much of the land devoted to it was replanted with other varietals. But, its real home is the Languedoc region in southern France. That’s where you’ll find Picpoul de Pinet, the only designated AOC for the grape. Here it’s produced as a single varietal in the communes of Pinet, Mèze, Florenzac, Castelnau-de-Guers, Montagnac, and Pomérols. It thrives in vineyard perched on top of hills made of limestone which gives it a distinct minerality. This Mediterranean climate is warmer than other regions in France, and that helps the grapes develop riper, fruity flavors that balance nicely against the grape’s naturally high acidity.
WHAT’S AT YOUR TABLE?
So, if you like a tangy Gruner Veltliner or a crisp Chablis then you should make Picpoul an addition to your wine cellar. Its bold citrus flavors, mouth-watering acidity, make the wine a cousin to Sauvignon Blanc, and not surprisingly, an excellent companion to all types of seafood, especially oysters. Other pairings include pork, cream-based sauces, and Japanese food. So next time you are in search of the perfect refreshing white put down the Sauvignon Blanc and pick up your new friend Picpoul.