Picpoul translates as 'lip-stinger,'referring to the shrill acidity that is inherent to this French Mediterranean grape variety. Picpoul is commonly encountered as Blanc, Noir and Gris versions, although the Blanc is the most common.
Picpoul is an ancient grape variety, with records indicating its ubiquity as long ago as the seventeenth century. However its susceptibility to fungal diseases, along with its stingy productivity, saw it fall out of favour in the twentieth century. It remains a stalwart in the Languedoc's coastal region however due to its tolerance of meager sandy soils.
Picpoul reaches its apogee in these sandy vineyards of the coastal Languedoc, just south of Montpellier, as the straight varietal expression Picpoul de Pinet. Served in elongated green bottles, Picpoul de Pinet is unoaked and almost saline in its tangy, lemony minerality. The wine finds an ease at the table with the local Bouziges oysters and other simply prepared seafood dishes. Consumption is rife during the warmer months when the region is heavily touristed.
Picpoul is also used as a blending agent across the region to give focus and poise to grape varieties with fatter leanings such as Grenache Blanc, as well as in Châteauneuf du Pape on the opposite side of the Rhône, where it is permitted in the region's multi-varietal blends in both Blanc and Noir guises.