Still and sparkling white French wines are produced in the 41 communes around Limoux. The climate in this area is clearly influenced by the Mediterranean, moderated by the influence of the Atlantic. It is much greener here than elsewhere in the Languedoc but from this apparent cool the local wines are somewhat tempestuous. Various Roman authors extolled the quality of the still wine of Limoux around the start ofthe first millennium. The natural conversion of still wine into sparkling was not discovered by a Benedictine monk until 1531. The first brut was produced at St-Hilaire, close to Limoux.
BLANQUETTE DE LlMOUX
This fresh sparkling wine must be produced with a minimum of 90 per cent of Mauzac grapes. The only grapes permitted to be supplemented are Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. After the initial fermentation and acquisition of the basic wine, tirage de liqueur is added to the wine. This causes a second fermentation in the bottle which adds bubbles to this French wine.
The residues from the fermentation are removed after at least nine months in the process of degorgement. Depending on the desired taste (brut or demi-sec) either none, a little, or more liqueur is added. Blanquette de Limoux is pale yellow tinged with green, is lightly but enduringly sparkling and has a fine nose of green apple and spring blossom together with a floral, fresh, and fruity taste.
Drinking temperature for this French wine at: 6- 8°C (42.8-46.4°F).
CREMANT DE LlMOUX
This French wine is actually closely related to the Blanquette. The differences are in the proportion of grapes used: a minimum of 60 per cent Mauzac (instead of 90) and a maximum of 20 per cent Chardonnay and 20 per cent Chenin Blanc together with a minimum maturation of 12 months instead of nine. The colour is pale golden, while the nose is very aromatic with suggestions of white flowers and toast, the taste is complex, light, and fresh. This Cremant is always characterised by its gentle, more delicate bubbles that make this a very subtle and elegant wine. Drinking temperature for this French wine: 6-8°C (42.8-46.4°F). There are special luxury cuvees of both the Blanquette and the Cremant. These do not perhaps possess the same finesse at top Champagnes but they do benefit from the warmth and generosity of the Mediterranean and the South of France. The price is exceptionally reasonable for a French wine.