Among wine and spirits aficionados, Picpoul Blanc (aka Folle Blanche) is best known as the grape used for pre-20th-century Cognac and Armagnac–the stuff from the good old days before phylloxera ruined everything. The grape also made some pretty darn good wines… It was planted throughout France’s crème de la crème wine regions, from the Loire Valley down to its border with Spain. These days, however, it’s hard to find the varietal, as between 1958 and 2009 plantings declined from 15,865 hectares to just 1,770 hectares.
Lucky for us, there are still a few wineries out there who plant Picpoul Blanc, and, when done right, it’s quite good. Paso Robles’ Halter Ranch is one of those wineries. Since 2019, they’ve been releasing a rare 100% Picpoul Blanc sparkling wine under the Libelle label, and now they have unveiled the 2020 edition, the Halter Ranch 2020 Libelle.
“We look forward to crafting and releasing Libelle, since it gets such a positive response,” said Kevin Sass, the Winemaker at Halter Ranch. “Creating this wine is a passion project of mine, and it’s a way to challenge expectations of what Paso Robles and Halter Ranch can produce. I hope our customers enjoy the 2020 Libelle for all of their celebrations.”
Translating loosely to “Lip Stinger” in French, the Picpoul Blanc is a white Rhône grape variety with the ability to retain acidity in warm climates like Paso Robles. Made in the Méthode Champenoise, Libelle takes over three years to produce. The grapes for this wine were harvested in 2020. From there began the first fermentation followed by a second fermentation, where yeast and sugar were added to create effervescence. The bottles were then aged on the lees for 24-30 months, and finally, the flavor was fine-tuned in late 2023 to create the finished product.
The 2020 Libelle offers aromas of crushed pineapple, lime, citrus, and a touch of cream that jump from the glass. The palate offers bright and crisp flavors, alongside notes of lemon, guava, and pear that transition to a balanced, clean finish.
Libelle is a crown jewel in the Halter Ranch portfolio. Its limited releases are highly anticipated by wine club members and beyond, and it often sells out in just a few months. Due to this demand, Halter Ranch is expanding their Picpoul Blanc vineyards by 25 acres.
The name Libelle comes from the German translation of “dragonfly,” referencing a painting created by proprietor Hansjörg Wyss’ father as a gift to his wife, Alice Halter. The bottle comes adorned with an artistic label of a Swiss papercut of the Halter Ranch property, nodding to the Swiss origins of proprietor Hansjörg Wyss.
Known for their commitment to sustainable and organic practices–culminating with the estate earning organic certification in August 2023–Halter Ranch continues to push the boundaries of what can be achieved in the Paso Robles wine region.
The Halter Ranch 2020 Libelle is available for purchase now at the winery’s online shop for $68 for Wine Club members, and $85 for non-members.