Sunday, July 30, 2006

St. Hilaire, Blanquette de Limoux, 2003

I very much like bubbly wine, but frequent drinking of Champagne can get very expensive very quickly. But the alternatives often seem disappointing. I rarely enjoy Spanish Cava, and I have been disappointed by a number of Australian sparkling wines. So when I am in the mood for a sparkling wine, but want to spend less than Champagne, I usually seek out a Californian. (I like the products from Mumm, Chandon, and Piper Sonoma, for example.) An alternative that can be a little bit more difficult to find is Blanquette de Limoux.

I also have a very special affection for this wine because when I was about 12 years old, we took a holiday in the Carcassonne area, and we visited many of the Blanquette makers. So these wineries were the first I ever got to visit!

Last night we had a bottle of the St. Hilaire, 2003. It was simply delicious. Very dry, with apple, pear and citrus flavors. It seemed a little fuller-bodied than I expected, and I wondered whether that was because of the intense heat wave in France in 2003. Highly recommended at only about $10.00 a bottle, and very different from Champagne. (Blanquette de Limoux must be made of at least 90% Mauzac, and the balance is usually Chardonnay or Chenin Blanc while Champagne can be made in any combination of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay.)

It is so interesting that the monks in this region claim to have invented what is now called the methode Chamenoise so many years before Dom Perignon came along!

For an account of the carnival in Limoux, take a look at this article.


suzy & todd said...

hey there,
there is a winery here in NM that makes a very good (we think) sparkling wine - Gruet. We especially like the blanc de noirs - it's usually about $11 here...wonder if it's easy to find elsewhere?

Moyey said...

Hey, Suzy,

I have heard really good things about Gruet, and I would be interested in trying it. I have never seen it in the Wshington area, though.

Interestingly, there is now wine produced in all 50 states. I have never tried wine from Alaska, have had wine from Hawaii. We visited Tedeschi Vineyards when we took a vacation in Maui.

suzy & todd said...

I'll try to remember to bring an extra bottle or two back (if they fit - when we move, we're only taking what fits in our cars!) for our wine tasting in Baltimore!