Piquepoul Blanc – A Rising Texas Star?
White grapes indigenous to the Rhône Valley in France were the subject of a previous Carl’s Corner in May-2017. Because these Rhône white grapes originate in hot, arid climates, such as the southern regions of France near the Mediterranean Sea coast, Texas grape growers and wine makers are having success in growing and vinifying them. The best-known of these include Viognier, Roussanne, and Marsanne. But, that previous post focused on lesser-known varieties of Grenache Blanc, Vermentino (Rolle) and Piquepoul Blanc. Piquepoul Blanc, a grape with much potential in Texas, will be highlighted in this post.
Piquepoul (“peek pool”) Blanc is primarily planted in the southern Rhône region of France, and is one of the grape varieties allowed in production of the famous wines of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. There are actually three color mutations of Piquepoul – Blanc, Noir and Gris. The red (noir) version is rarely seen, and is primarily used for blending or in the production of rose’ wines. The gris (grey-pink) version is near non-existent, planted primarily in special vineyards designed to preserve the variety for historical perspective.
Most sources indicate the name Piquepoul stems from French word piquer, meaning “to sting.” This may relate to the lip and tongue tingling acidity of the grapes and finished wines. Others claim the name Piquepoul stems from words that mean “peak” as in a hill or mountain peak, or possibly “beak” as in a bird’s beak.
Piquepoul Blanc produces lighter-bodied wines with ample acidity. They tend to be crisp and refreshing, especially popular for warm weather sipping (patio or pool “pounders”). Aromas and flavors that are most often found in Piquepoul Blanc include lemon, lime, peach, apricot, and white flower blossoms, all delivered in a package structured with good acidity and hints of minerality (think chalk dust or limestone). This natural acidity and mineral-laced finish, accompanied by generally lower alcohol levels in the finished wines, help Piquepoul Blanc to pair extremely well with food.
Piquepoul Blanc has experienced a recent upsurge in Texas, primarily due to McPherson Cellars winning the prestigious prizes for Best White Rhone Varietal and Best in Show White at the 2016 San Francisco International Wine Competition. The grapes were grown on Timmons Ranch near Brownfield, and both McPherson and Lost Draw Cellars released a Piquepoul Blanc from the 2015 vintage. The new 2016 vintage of Piquepoul Blanc from Timmons Ranch has been released by both producers. The McPherson Cellars Piquepoul Blanc is available now at 4.0 Cellars. It is a delicious, crisp, refreshing white wine, perfect for warm summer and early fall meals and events.
Based on recent success for Texas wines made from and with these Rhône varieties, the expectation is that more vineyard acreage will be planted, and more bottlings will be available in the future. So, seek out wines made from these grapes, and if you like them, make sure to tell the tasting room folks and wine makers so they will be inspired to focus even more on grapes like Piquepoul Blanc in the future. Let’s have a Pique-POUL Party!!
“The Little Three” by Patrick J. Comiskey, Wine & Spirits, June, 2017, p28-31.
Piquepoul: A Stinger or a Spider, a Beak or a Peak, a blog post by Jane Nickles, The Bubbly Professor, 9-Dec-2016
According to the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association, the following vineyards grow Piquepoul Blanc: Bending Branch Estate Vineyards in Comfort and Lost Draw Vineyards (Timmons Ranch) in Brownfield