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Picolit grapes

by | Nov 8, 2016

Picolit is a white wine grape variety originated in Italy. This grape variety belongs to Vitis Vinifera species.


It is Italy’s most popular dessert wine which makes it the world’s most loved dessert wine grapes. Since very early time this variety of grape has been planted in the vineyards of Friuli –Venezia Giulia, which is located in the north of Italy dedicate its 148 acres of cultivated land to grow this grape.

This grape variety is officially assured by an Italian food product agency called Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC). The dessert wines made from Picolit grapes are often produces in passito style.

Warm day and chilly nights of Friuli-Venezia Giulia make the growth of this grape variety very suitable to make the balance between sugar and acidity content in the wines.

Some of the finest wines in Europe were made in Friuli from semi-dry Picolit grapes. With the advancement of technology in the winemaking process, Picolit grapes are also used for blending more than 15% of other grapes in Italy.

Wine grape varieties

This glorious grape variety from Italy had an illustrious past and the winemakers from north Italy are trying to keep its reputation intact.

Picolit has many synonyms like; Balafant, Balafan, Blaustingl Weiss, Blaustengler, Keknyelü, Kel’ner, Kek Nyeliü, Piccolet, Peccoleto Bianco, Piccolit,  Piccoletta, Piccolito, Piccolitto Friulano and Piccoliti Bianco.

But in Friuli it is known by Picolit and this name is considered to be a protect name from the past.

History of Picolit grapes

The origin of Picolit grapes is still not clearly announced.

This grape was officially documented in the year 1682, for the first time.

It is believed that this grape variety had very ancient roots.

A photo posted by Ermacora (@ermacora_winery) on

Romans cultivated this grape and brought it in Italy around 1500 AD. The wine made from Picolit was first exposed to the world in 17th and 18th century, when 100,000 bottles of Picolit wines were transported all over the Europe, especially to the noble’s houses.

The Perusini family saved this grape from the verge of extinction by investing in the plantation of Picolit grapes. The extinction was the result of poor standards of grape-berries and difficulty in growing vines.

The investment made by Perusini family had a positive result and the production of Picolit wines elevated in the 60s and 70s.

Viticulture and winemaking of Picolit grapes

Picolit grapes made in the vineyards of Collio district near the Slovenia border in Italy have a favorable climatic and soil condition for the perfect growth of this grape.

A photo posted by Luca Bassi (@bassi_luca) on

The worm and chill temperature of hillsides helps in better ripening of the Picolit grapes. Soils enriched with clay and limestone is another factor for better plantation of this grape. The harvest season for this grape is around late September or early October, and it is done mostly by hand to avoid any damage to the plant.

During fermentation of the grapes it is first de-steamed and pressed with only wild yeast. Some of the grapes are kept aside during fermentation for drying in the sun.

These dried grapes are fermented later. It is kept in notice to ferment the grapes till it reaches 14% in alcohol content.

A fine balance is kept between level of acidity and residual sugar in the wine. The aging period of these wines is about 12 to 18 months.

Characteristics of Picolit grape wines

Picolit grapes make some of the finest dessert wines in Italy like; Nonino UE Picolit Acquavite d’Uva Collezione Nonino Italy, Livio Felluga Coli Orientali del Friuli Picolit  Italy, Fantinel Borgo ‘La Roncaia’ Picolit Coli Orientali del Friuli Italy and many others.

The total acidity content in these wines is about 5.5 gram/li and the residual sugar content of 90 gram/li. These wines are mild acidic of pH 3.58 and contain alcohol of about 14% by volume.

The wines made from Picolit grapes have soft floral aroma and taste like peach and apricot.

Food pairing with Picolit grapes wine

Mille-feuille, which is a French clustered slice, will be a great match with Picolit wines. Ice cream with caramel sauce and Gorgonzola cheese are also good to go with these wines.

Since Picolit wines are mostly famous  dessert wines, you can have them just after the meal.

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Michael Bredahl

Michael Bredahl

Wine Writer

Michael is an online enthusiast, with a lot of knowledge about online marketing. Traveling around the world to hunt for the perfect wine. Latest on Sicily, where Etna has a huge impact on the taste, which is strong with a bitter aftertaste for the youngest wines, but older wines are fantastic. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one the passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂

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