Don’t know about Picardan? Don’t worry… just read on.
Recently, we were staying at the Resort at Fredericksburg in a Tiny House B&B, one of many situated there, on the shore of the Pedernales just east of Fredericksburg, Texas. It was a great stay with my wife kayaking and then us enjoying the early Spring weather on the porch. Later, we walked down to The Edge and enjoyed an elevated view of the Pedernales countryside, charcuterie, and the English Newsom Cellars tasting room.
This is where we came to find a very unusual wine for Texas and perhaps anywhere in the modern wine world. The wine was made from the grape, Picardan, grown in a Texas High Plains vineyard by English Newsom Cellars.
This unusual grape name momentarily stump me until I thought about it a bit. I figured that, grown on the High Plains, it was most likely Vitis vinfiera, the winemaking grapes of Europe. However, the name was coming to me until I recalled that there are 13 approved winemaking grapes grown in the Rhone Valley in and around Chateauneuf du Pape. Many of these varieties, however, are not often made into varietal wines, but serve as role players in the region’s mostly blended wines.
OK, what is Picardan? Well, Picardan or Picardan blanc is a white wine grape from the Rhône wine region in France. However, very little of it is planted. Picardan gives a wine that is light-bodied and reportedly somewhat neutral in character. The English Newsom Cellars Picardan that I tasted had notes of pear and apple, crisp acidity, mineral, but finishing soft yet bright – very palate friendly. The crisp acidity is likely the result of having another white Rhone grape, Picpoule Blanc, in its lineage. But, perhaps the most interesting aspect of Picardan is its relative obscurity and limited vineyard production in either the old or new world wine regions.
According to authorities at Tablas Creek, who are the people in the know with respect to anything related to Rhone winegrowing, they are very interested in it, saying, ”Picardan is a grape whose first mention talks about it being ‘very common’, but is now one of the world’s rarest [grape varieties], with just over an acre planted in France. It’s still relatively new to us at Tablas Creek, in production just since 2016, but we are sufficiently excited by its bright finish and rich flavors that since 2017 we have blended it into our flagship white wine, Esprit de Tablas Blanc.”
Well, let’s welcome the Texas High Plain (and specifically Steve and Cindy Newsom Vineyards) to locations being dedicated to preserving the production of Picardan grapes and their wine.
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