Recently I was speaking to a colleague of mine, and during the conversation we both agreed that our favourite variety of white wine was Picpoul de Pinet. A delicious refreshing variety from the Languedoc region in the south of France. Made exclusively from Picpoul Blanc, it’s a wine with tremendous character that doesn’t get nearly enough credit among wine drinkers in the UK.
Picpoul Blanc enjoyed great popularity through the 16th,17th and 18th centuries, traditionally blended with another obscure variety (Clairette), it was savoured throughout northern Europe during this time period, particularly in Paris. Unfortunately the Picpoul vine has always been susceptible to pests and disease, and when the Phylloxera pest navigated it’s way from its home in North America to the European vineyards in the late 19th century, the variety saw a steep decline in production.
Fortunately for wine drinkers the world over, Picpoul unlike Phylloxera can survive and thrive in sandy soils, the likes you find in coastal vineyards like the ones in the Languedoc-Roussillon. The wines created are full bodied, often green-to-gold in colour with plenty of mouth-watering acidity and citrus flavours. Although southern France is the most popular Picpoul region, you can find the variety in Spain, Portugal, and recently California too.
If you’re looking for the perfect food-match for Picpoul de Pinet, we highly recommend you take a look at the expert advice offered by renowned wine/food writer Fiona Beckett. Here she recommends a good Provencal-style fish soup among many other delicious dishes that will bring out the full flavour and full character of the wine.
Picpoul Blanc is one of the thirteen varieties permitted in the creation of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, it’s natural acidity makes it an incredibly friendly blending partner. However if you’re anything like me, you’ll want a full on fresh Picpoul on its own, with all the refreshing goodness and crisp flavours. Remember Picpoul naturally translates to “lip stinger”.