Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Piquepoul, ancient grape variety from the Vaucluse département of southern France that is encountered in Blanc, Noir, and very occasionally Gris versions, with the white being the most planted today, although they have frequently been mixed in the vineyard in their long history in the languedoc-Roussillon. Piquepoul meaning ‘lip-stinger’, possibly signifying the high acidity of its must, was cited as a producer of good-quality wine as early as the beginning of the 17th century and, with clairette, formed the basis of picardan, exported northwards in vast quantities in the 17th and 18th centuries. Its susceptibility to fungal diseases, however, together with its unremarkable yield, reduced its popularity considerably after phylloxera arrived. In the early 20th century, the variety’s good tolerance of sand made it a popular choice for the coastal vineyards that serviced the then flourishing vermouth industry. Today many of those vineyards are tourist campsites and vermouth is an Italian phenomenon but picpoul de pinet has been a significant commercial success and France’s total plantings of Piquepoul Blanc in 2011 were more than 1,500 ha/3,705 acres, virtually all in the Hérault. A small amount is also grown in California.