Picpoul Blanc Grape Variety & Wine Profile
Picpoul Blanc is a white grape that is one of the oldest domestic grape varieties in the Languedoc, along with Cinsault and Clairette Blanche. It is used primarily as a blending grape, but it is also made into a single varietal wine. Though its origins are in southern France in the Languedoc and southern Rhône Valley regions, specifically found in Picpoul de Pinet AOC, Picpoul is also grown in Catalonia in Spain, has some plantings in Portugal, and has found a home in the New World in various regions across the U.S. and Australia, including Texas Hill Country, Arizona, Washington State, and California. In Central California, Tablas Creek Winery in Paso Robles planted Picpoul in 2000 and had its first successful harvest in 2003. The winery currently produces the grape as a single varietal wine, as well as a component in their famous blends such as Esprit de Tablas Blanc, which also includes Grenache Blanc and Roussanne.
In the vineyard, Picpoul buds early and ripens late in Paso Robles, according to the Tablas Creek blog. It is sensitive to diseases such as downy mildew. In good years, yields can be high. It prefers sandy soils and a warmer climate, usually in coastal areas.
The Tasting Notes of Picpoul Blanc
Picpoul translates to “lip stinger,” as it is known for its racy acidity in the glass. It can be added to a blend to increase acidity, or it can be made into a single varietal wine. Traditional notes on the palate for Picpoul wines include citrus and herbal flavors and strong minerality. In the Pinet region of France, Picpoul is made into a crisp, light “green” wine. While in California, the grape shows more tropical flavors and a richer style with pear, pineapple, and spice. In France, most Picpoul wines are meant to be consumed young, however, in California, the richer style wines can age, developing more tertiary flavors.
Food Pairing Picpoul Blanc
When it comes to food pairings, Picpoul wines can be quite versatile. Poultry and seafood are good accompaniments, but it’s important to acknowledge the style of the wine. Richer, more full-bodied wines will pair well with dishes containing cream or butter sauce. French Picpoul wines are perfect accompaniments for many of the traditional Provencal dishes. Other options to consider include salted cod, oysters, salmon dishes, or swordfish. Braised chicken with lemon and fennel flavors would be a great option to pair with Picpoul varietal wines or blends.
Learn About These Other Wine Grape Varieties
Written By Jacqueline Coleman
Jacqueline Coleman is a professional wine + travel writer, wine judge, columnist, and consultant based in Miami, FL.