Picpoul! A great summer white wine.

One of the “Other” French Whites of the Languedoc

Picpoul means “lip stinger” and is just one of the intriguing white wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. Find out more about this Mediterranean paradise of sunshine friendly wines.

Fun, bright, easy, light… That sounds like the description for the ideal summer day. This also happens to be the style of a group of lesser-known wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region, an area that spans from Nîmes to Spain, just west of the French Riviera. The wines of Languedoc-Roussillon are a patchwork quilt of colors and styles, dry/sweet/still/sparkling/fortified, all made under the Mediterranean sun.

The Languedoc-Roussillon wine region. Postcard by Benoit-France.

Languedoc-Roussillon, in fact, is the largest wine producing region of France with roughly 584,400 acres. About 25% of France’s total wine production comes from the Languedoc (“long-dock”) and Roussillon. The region is no stranger to winemaking, as grapes were first planted in 125 BC near the Roman colony Narbo, or modern day Narbonne, in the production zone of Corbières.

Picpoul de Pinet

  • Tasting Notes: preserved lemon, honeydew melon, white blossoms, white peach, crushed rocks
  • Food Pairing: oysters, prawns Provençal, salt cod croquettes, carbonara pasta, all-around great with seafood

Picpoul de Pinet displays flavors of lemon and saline, white blossoms and wet stones. Literally translated, Picpoul means “stings the lip,” referring to the grape’s naturally sky-high acidity. These wines are light to medium bodied, bone dry, have mouth watering acidity, and typically and moderate alcohol. These wines are France’s answer to Portugal’s Vinho Verde can be found in the AOP region Picpoul de Pinet. They’re an excellent, affordable alternative to Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.

Picpoul isn’t planted in many places outside of Southern France. That said, occasionally you’ll find a home-grown example from Washington or California, which can provide you with a fun comparison exercise.

Inspired to taste some great Picpoul? Let our Tasting Placemats guide you!

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