Picpoul Blanc Description
Picpoul , also referred to as Piquepoul or Picapoll, is a grape variety primarily cultivated in France’s Rhone Valley and Languedoc areas, as well as in Catalonia, Spain. The grape comes in different variants including the dark-skinned Picpoul noir, the light-skinned Picpoul blanc, and the less common Picpoul gris. Among these, Piquepoul blanc is notably prevalent, with its cultivation covering 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) in France as of the year 2000, and the figures have been on the rise.
The grape variety is characterized by its late budding and a certain vulnerability to ailments like powdery mildew.
Tracing back its roots, Picpoul boasts a rich heritage in the Languedoc region. It stands as one of the region’s most ancient indigenous grape types, alongside Cinsault and Clairette blanche. Historically, it was mixed with Clairette blanche to create the wine known as Picardan during the 17th and 18th centuries.
However, the Picpoul’s prominence dwindled post the Great French Wine Blight—a period marked by massive changes in the grape varieties being cultivated. This decline was largely due to the grape’s propensity to fall prey to fungal diseases like powdery mildew and its relatively low production yield.
In the wine region of Languedoc, the white variant of Picpoul is utilized in both solo and mixed wine formulations. Conversely, the red variant, known for its high alcohol content, intense aroma, and notably light hue, is more commonly employed as a blending component rather than for standalone wines.
For the esteemed Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines, both Piquepoul blanc and noir are recognized as acceptable blending grapes. Yet, as of 2004, these Picpoul varieties constituted a mere 0.15% of the vineyard area designated for this appellation.
Internationally, Picpoul has found a favorable terroir in the Chiricahua Mountains’ foothills, positioned at an elevation of 5000 feet within Southern Arizona’s Willcox AVA. This grape variety is also cultivated in Eastern Washington State’s Red Mountain AVA.
The cultivation of Picpoul blanc extends to Sonoma, California, as well as the Texas Hill Country AVA and Texas High Plains AVAs.
In Australia, the journey of Picpoul blanc began in 2013 with its first planting, leading to its initial commercial wine release in 2017. This variety was specifically imported for its compatibility with oyster consumption.
Focusing on Picpoul de Pinet, this distinct AOC within the broader Languedoc AOC is reserved for white wines crafted exclusively from Picpoul blanc. These wines are produced in specific towns, namely Pinet, Mèze, Florensac, Castelnau-de-Guers, Montagnac, and Pomérols.
Characterized by their green-gold hue, full body, and citrus notes, these wines possess a subtle and agreeable bouquet, reminiscent of acacia and hawthorn flowers. Recent advancements in winemaking techniques have sparked renewed interest in these wines.
The term Piquepoul, along with its variations, has several synonyms. For Piquepoul blanc, these include names like Avello, Avillo, and Picapoll, among others. The gray variant of Piquepoul is also known by names such as Avillo and Piquepoul rose. The noir variant is recognized by various terms including Avillo, Pical Polho, and Piquerette noire.
It’s noteworthy that the name Picpoul is also associated with Folle blanche, a distinct variety bearing no confirmed relation to Piquepoul.
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