Wine varietals and styles

What is picpoul?

By Halliday Wine Companion

20 Dec, 2022

Here's your guide to picpoul [pik-pool].

Go to section: Picpoul tasting characteristics | Origins of picpoul | How to pair food with picpoul | Serving temperature for picpoul | The best Australian picpoul regions

Picpoul, or piquepoul, is an ancient French grape variety. While it exists in blanc, noir and gris versions, white is the most planted variety today. Sometimes used as a blending grape, its most famous expression is as a single varietal white wine from Picpoul de Pinet, an appellation within the Languedoc-Roussillon region in southern France.

Coriole vineyardCoriole is one of the few producers of picpoul in Australia.

Picpoul tasting characteristics

Named for its high acidity (picpoul translates to 'lip stinger'), Picpoul de Pinet wines are dry, light-bodied and green-gold in colour, with lemon, saline and, occasionally, floral (blossom) notes. You'll like picpoul if you like sauvignon blancpinot grigio, vinho verde or other crisp, easy-drinking white wine.

Origins of picpoul

Picpoul is an ancient French grape variety. Aside from the Languedoc, picpoul is grown in the Rhône Valley (it’s permitted in the production of Châteauneuf-du-Pape), and in the Catalonia region of Spain where it’s known as avillo. There are also small plantings in Portugal, and in several New World regions including the United States.

Oysters with lemon and breadPicpoul is also known as the oyster wine.

How to pair food with picpoul

Picpoul has a natural affinity with oysters (it’s often called ‘the oyster wine’) but pairs well with a range of shellfish and fish. Its high acidity means it also cuts through fried or other rich, fatty foods. 

Serving temperature for picpoul

The ideal serving temperature for picpoul is 8–10 degrees.

The best Australian picpoul regions

Mark Lloyd from Coriole in South Australia’s McLaren Vale was responsible for Australia’s first commercial picpoul blanc vintage in 2015, with Borrowed Cuttings from NSW’s Central Ranges close behind in 2016.

In the years since, other wineries around the country have experimented with single varietal picpoul wines, including Ministry of Clouds and HornerCharles Melton in the Barossa and McLaren Vale’s Yangarra Estate also cultivate the grape; the latter uses it in its Southern Rhône-inspired blends.

Across eight modules, Halliday Wine Academy's Introduction to Wine course offers a detailed look at the Australia wine landscape. Learn about wine varietals, Australian wine regions, how wine is made, how to taste and describe wine, how to approach food and wine matches, along with handy tips that address common wine questions.