Piquepoul Blanc, known also as “Lip Stinger” due to the wine’s high levels of acidity, is a green grape from France’s south.
It is a low yielding variety, which, together with its sensitivity to diseases, once made it lose in popularity, and for example was replaced by Ugni Blanc in the production of Armagnac. It is recognised above all for being a high acidity variety, with an aromatic level of low to medium. This makes it an excellent blending partner.
Piquepoul Blanc has flowery aromas, but these are less obvious to the palate where citrus and high acidity become more evident.
Piquepoul is one of the varieties allowed in the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape blend. Given the distribution of acreage (see below), this is of less interest here. The AOC of interest is instead the one called Picpoul de Pinet in Languedoc-Roussillon, few kilometres south-west of Montpellier. It can only be used for varietal Piquepoul Blanc from one of the municipalities Pinet, Mèze, Florenzac, Castelnau-de-Guers, Montagnac or Pomérols. This is also where you will find the most interesting expressions of dry varietal Piquepoul Blanc wines.
A Piquepoul Blanc dry varietal wine is, thanks to its high acidity, a wonderful pairing to fish and shellfish.
It is also recommended with chocolate. The wine is best served at 8-10°C/46-50°F.
Where is it grown?
Piquepoul Blanc is a variety reported to be grown only in France. The acreage has increased with fifty-three percent between 2000 and 2010. It is nevertheless a variety with little spread. With its 1.492 ha/3,686 ac, it is the forty-ninth most planted grape in the country.
It is grown exclusively in the south of France, with more than ninety percent of the planted area being reported to be in the Languedoc-Roussillon district of Herault. There is some small acreage reported also from Provence and southern Rhône.
Piquepoul Blanc is recognised as a variety native to the south of France. The black version, Piquepoul Noir, is the earliest documented, more than six hundred years ago.
Piquepoul Blanc is a colour mutation of the black grape. Over the centuries other varieties have been mistaken for Piquepoul Blanc, which has created some confusion until DNA testing has been able to confirm or refute kinship.