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13 December 2023

Languedoc: Limoux.

Château de Flandry, Limoux.

Perhaps not that famous outside of France (although many of the wines recommended here are well distributed in Europe and North America), the Limoux region stretches mostly to the south, west and north of the visit-worthy town of Limoux in southwestern Languedoc, about half an hour south of Carcassonne. The vineyards are often planted on hillsides enhancing the slightly cooler climate this area enjoys, which is home to some classy sparkling wines, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir among others.

Château Rives-Blanques, Cépie.
Odyssée Chardonnay 2021: Fermented and matured in barrels for 10 months with occasional lees-stirring. Enticing mix of yeast-lees nuances and creamy notes, well balanced and still quite youthful with lingering zesty lees tones. €15-€18 France, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Slovakia. $20-$25 US, Canada. £17.50-£19.50 UK. CHF 17-19. €24 Lithuania.
Domaine J. Laurens, La Digne-d'Aval.
They only make tasty fizz and have been doing it for a while, each one matured for 9 to 12 months, or longer for certain cuvées, in bottle on the yeast-lees. Bottle shot from jlaurens.fr. Most of these are imported into the US by Cynthia Hurley French Wines, and by Boutinot in the UK.
L'Auriol Mauzac Blanquette de Limoux Brut Nature: No added sweetening dosage. Toasty and rich while appley and very dry on the finish, classy. €12.80 France, €16.20 Belgium. $20 US. 209Kr Sweden. £16 UK.
Clos des Demoiselles Crémant de Limoux 2020: Vintage selection of 60% Chardonnay, 25% Chenin and 15% Pinot Noir with longer ageing on the lees. Elegant subtle and fresh with toasty yeasty aromas and flavours, very good. €15-€18 France, Belgium, Netherlands. $50 Aus. €32 Dublin. $23-$25 US, Canada. 24 CHF.
La Rose No. 7 Crémant de Limoux Rosé: 60% Chardonnay, 25% Chenin and 15% Pinot Noir. Attractive mix of red fruits, yeast lees notes and subtle toasted almond flavours. France €13.30. £15-£20 UK.
Blanquette de Limoux Méthode Ancestrale: 100% Mauzac, partially fermented to around 6.5% abv leaving natural sweetness. Quirky and sweet but light, different for sure. €11.40 France. £11-£15 UK.
Clos des Demoiselles Crémant de Limoux Rosé: 50% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 10% Chenin; 20 months lees-ageing. Fruity and aromatic with yeasty intensity to finish, another class bubbly. €15 France.

Maison Antech, Limoux.
Françoise Antech-Gazeau antech-limoux.com.

M 3.0 Le Mauzac Blanquette de Limoux Brut Nature (12% abv, no dosage added): Intense and dry vs rich and yeast-leesy, delicious. €20-€24 France, Netherlands. €29 Hungary. £22.75 UK. $20 US.
Antech Réserve Blanquette de Limoux Brut 2019 (12% abv, dosage 10 g/l): Mauzac, Chenin, Chardonnay; 18 months lees-ageing. Fruitier and richer while less dry, another class bubbly. £12.50-£14 UK (2021 Wine Society). €13.50-€15 France, Germany, Czech Republic, Belgium, Netherlands. €28 Ireland. $35 Aus. $20-$22 US & CA.
Cuvée Eugénie Crémant de Limoux Brut 2020 (12% abv, dosage 8 g/l): Chardonnay, Chenin, Mauzac; 18 months lees-ageing. Elegant fresh and structured mouthfeel vs toasty and tasty, closes up on the finish, very good. €14-€16 France, Germany. $16-$22 US. £18 UK.
Cuvée Emotion Rosé Crémant de Limoux Brut 2020 (12% abv, dosage 8 g/l): Chardonnay, Chenin, Mauzac, Pinot Noir; 18 months lees-ageing. Red fruity nose and flavours with textured biscuity palate, very nice indeed. €15-€16 France. $17-$22 US. £17-£18 UK.

Domaine Mouscaillo, Roquetaillade.
Limoux Blanc 2019 (13.5% abv): Chardonnay (90%), Chenin and Mauzac, 25 to 50 year-old vines from two blocks at 400 metres altitude, one facing north and one south. Fermented then aged in used 500/600 litre barrels for 11 months with lees-stirring, 12+ months in bottle. Still quite toasty oak to start but it's mature, creamy and rounded with lovely nutty flavours. €16-€18.50 France, Netherlands. £16 UK (2021 The Wine Society). $22-$27 US, Canada.
Crémant de Limoux Brut Nature 2020 (12.5% abv): First pressing of Chardonnay (60%), Pinot Noir (30%), Chenin (10%); fermented and aged on the lees for 8 months in old casks, second fermentation in bottle by adding 'our own grape must', matured for a minimum of 18 months. Another very dry fizz with no added dosage, which is happening more and more in the area apparently. Creamy and toasty with a wilder 'natural' side, complex and tasty. €17-€19 France. $24 US.

Domaine Bernatas, La Digne-d'Amont.
Brothers Jérôme and Stéphane set up this small-scale operation five years ago farming 6.5 ha of hillside vineyards biodynamically.
La Petite Cordillère 2021: Chenin Blanc from 'Pa d'en Sastre' block, 8 months' ageing in different cask-sizes. Natural-leaning style yet rich nutty and intense, very good. €19 France. £31 UK. 195Kr DK. $37 US.
L'Outreblanc 2021: Chardonnay from 'Peilhagon', matured in old tuns. Toasty and textured balanced by fresh acidity, nice wilder side to it with lovely elegant lingering finish. €19 France. £31 UK. 195Kr DK.
M et Nous 2019: Mauzac from 'Le Pla', whole bunch carbonic maceration, cask ageing. Quite deep colour, amazing lush ripe nose but the palate is dry, textured and nutty, powerful yet stylish. Wow. €25 France. 229Kr DK.

Domaine Delmas, Antugnac.

Tradition Blanquette de Limoux Extra Brut (12.5% abv): Mauzac, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay (400 metres altitude); maturated on lees for 24 months, residual sugar below 6 g/l. Toasty and elegant at the same time, pretty intense with lingering flavours and fresh bite. €16-€17 Netherlands, Italy. £15-£16 UK. $16-$19 US, CA.
Cuvée des Sacres Crémant de Limoux Brut 2020 (12.5% abv): Chardonnay, Chenin, Pinot Noir; maturated on lees 30 months, below 12 g/L RS. Toasty and rich aromas countered by very attractive fresh apple and almond notes; rather tasty. €15.50-€17.50 France. €19.50 Netherlands. €24.50 Belgium. 286Kr SE. US: The Hirsch Collection.
They produce a Pinot Noir as well, which I found a little on the oaky side but others thought it was good.

Coming soon: Languedoc: Malepère.
Other recent Languedoc stuff: Fitou, Rosé, Saint-Chinian.

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