Folle Blanche is an obscure and rapidly declining grape variety found exclusively in the west of France. In the Pays Nantais (at the far western end of the Loire Valley) it masquerades as Gros Plant, and is used in the tangy, dry white wines sold as Gros Plant du Pays Nantais. In the southwest, it is used in brandy production, most often in Armagnac and, to a lesser extent, Cognac.
The variety was once commonly grown across the west of France. It proved particularly popular in wine districts with reliable access to a port as brandy produced from the variety were widely traded by merchants from England and The Netherlands.
© IFV?INRA?Montpellier SupAgro
Folle Blanche has a bad (and wholly justified) reputation as being highly susceptible to rot and disease. This reputation has seriously hindered the variety's recovery after the devastating phylloxera epidemic of the late 19th Century. Few vignerons were keen to replant their vineyards post-phylloxera with anything but the most disease-resistant varieties. In Armagnac, for example, it has largely been replaced by its more disease-resistant progeny, Baco Blanc, a variety most notable for being the only hybrid grape variety permitted in a French AOC.
With its high acid and relatively neutral flavor profile, Folle Blanche is ideal for brandy production. Although a few producers (notably Armagnac's Domaine du Tariquet) produce single-variety Folle Blanche brandies, it is most often blended with Ugni Blanc and Colombard (see Colombard – Folle – Ugni wines).
Folle Blanche, like so many French wine grapes, is the offspring of Gouais Blanc. It is a natural parent to the little-known Merlot Blanc, and was used as a parent variety in the creation of the hybrids Folignan, Baco Blanc and Baco Noir.
In some parts of the French southwest, Folle Blanche it is known by the synonym Picpoul, but it is quite distinct from the Picpoul found in Languedoc-Roussillon.
Synonyms include: Gros Plant, Picpoul, Piquepoul, Damery.
Food pairings for Folle Blanche wine include:
- Fennel carpaccio with gouda
- Seared white fish with lemon
- Pilaf with fresh herbs