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Showing posts with label Crémant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Crémant. Show all posts

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.

30 May 2012

Languedoc: Limoux sparkling wines

It wouldn't be the first time I've knocked together a few enthusiastic words about Limoux fizz on this blog and what great value for money these wines often are. This increasingly dynamic region, and relatively cool-climate for the Languedoc - lying mostly on rolling hilly land stretching out to the south of Carcassonne around the eponymous market town - boasts hundreds of years of history of making quality sparkling wines. Not that I usually give a damn about how long somebody's been doing something per se - if what they're doing is good anyway - but a little 'tradition' probably helps in this case.
The first two Limoux styles featured below are essentially created in the same way using the so-called traditional method (same as Champagne with a second fermentation in bottle), although different grape varieties, or proportions of, make up the base blends for each style; and the 'rules' on ageing differ slightly too. Crémant is made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir (especially for rosé), Chenin blanc and/or Mauzac with at least 12 months bottle-ageing on its yeast-lees sediment. Blanquette is built mostly, or sometimes entirely, from Mauzac supplemented by Chenin and/or Chardonnay. There is another 'older' style called Blanquette Méthode Ancestrale, which is 100% Mauzac and the result of a bottle-fermentation that stops leaving some residual sugar and lower alcohol of 6-7%. I tried these tempting bottles on a tasting trip to the Languedoc last month.


Crémant de Limoux


White

2008 Château Rives Blanques Blanc de Blancs - delicately toasty and honeyed with almond and yeasty edges, crisp and stylish with attractive nutty and bready flavours, long refreshing finish. Very good.
2008 Taudou - less expressive nose, quite yeasty vs honeyed although crisp and steely too; a touch too much of that toasted yeast character although it has substance and is still nice!
2008 Alain Cavailles/Le Moulin d'Alon 'Résilience' - subtle nutty bready flavours with 'straw' and honey undertones, crisp mineral bite vs 'sweeter' toasty creamy side, good length and style.
2008 Domaine Delmas Cuvée Audace - richer nose with more 'fino'/nutty character too, lovely crisp steely bite vs yeasty and toasty. Very good.
2009 Georges et Roger Antech Cuvée Héritage - fairly fine with elegant nutty yeasty intensity, a tad closed up although has intricate flavours and crisp length.
2010 Domaine J Laurens Clos des Demoiselles - 'winier' and fuller with toasted oat notes, crisp and fresh finish. Lovely.
2006 Domaine de Martinolles - toasty complex nose, enticing rich developed character showing oaty nutty flavours vs steely and fine mouth-feel. Tasty stuff.
2007 Toques et Clochers Sieur d'Arques - delicious sparkling wine offering toasty complex full-bodied flavours vs tight fine and crisp on its long finish. Who needs expensive Champagne? This limited edition fizz is €15 cellar door, making it one of Limoux's dearest although among the best too.

Rosé

2009 Antech Cuvée Emotion - elegant red fruits and rose petal vs bready and nutty, tight and crisp finish. Good stuff.
2009 Alain Cavailles/Le Moulin d'Alon 'Micromégas' - rich and 'winey', not very pink but who cares; honeyed and fairly toasty cakey vs fresher finish and bite. More good stuff.
Domaine de Martinolles - delicate vs oily red fruits with nutty yeasty and crisp palate, again lovely fine steely finish vs gently toasty character. These guys know what they're doing.
Profile on Martinolles with older vintages HERE.
Domaine J Laurens La Rose No. 7 - sounds like a lipstick maybe, but this quite delicate tight and steely fizz also has subtle rose water and red fruit tones; mouth-watering refreshing style with nice lingering flavours. Very good.
Sieur d'Arques Première Bulle rosé - delightfully refreshing light and delicate pink fizz. Quite expensive though at €12.

Blanquette de Limoux

2009 Joseph Salasar Carte Blanche - toasty earthy winey with attractive honeyed straw character, richer yeasty palate vs crisp bite and length. Very good.
2009 Château Rives Blanques - aromatic grapey winey nose, rounded vs steely palate, nicely crisp and long; a bit different too.
2009 Alain Cavailles Etincelle Originelle - earthy vs appley nose, yeasty and lightly toasty flavours, crisp vs honeyed, quite intense and refined.
2009 Alain Cavailles Résilience - similar style, finer and nuttier perhaps, again crisp refreshing vs honeyed mouth-feel, elegant length.
2009 Domaine Robert Carte Noire - floral and almond aromas, light crisp and refreshing palate vs yeastier biscuit flavours, long and fresh. Good stuff.
2010 Nicolas Therez Instant d'Arome Peche - fruitier and grappier vs apple and pear notes, crisp and steely with light refreshing finish.
2010 Sieur d'Arques Première Bulle - clean crisp and appley with yeasty undertones, quite delicate and tart, nice palate cleanser with crisp length. Good. €10
2010 Robert Carte Ivoire - juicy honeyed hints vs appley and crisp backdrop, nice lightly toasty yeasty richness vs dry and steely, fresh and long. Fair class.
Profile on Robert / Domaine de Fourn with older vintages HERE.
2010 Taudou - more honeyed and fuller style, oat cakey flavours vs appley crisp and clean bite, delicious fizz actually.
Domaine Delmas Tradition NV - subtle honeyed grapey tones vs appley bite, attractive yeasty depth and oat biscuit flavours, crisp long vs richer finish. More good stuff.
Antech Brut Nature - appley and lightly yeasty, intense crisp and dry vs rounder honeyed biscuity side, long and refreshing; needs food as it's pretty dry on its own. Very good though if you like 'nature' styles (no added dosage = sweetening).

Blanquette Ancestrale

Sieur d'Arques Coeur de Bulle (6% alc., 80 g/l residual sugar) - refreshing and light although quite sweet: best with a fruit dessert actually. €7.60
Antech Ancestrale - grapey and earthy, sweet vs crisper side, pleasant Moscato d'Asti alternative.

Lots more Limoux fizz here (report from last year's 'Millésimes en Languedoc' April 2011). See also Limoux winery profiles in the Languedoc A to Z on the right...

18 January 2010

Delmas 2004 Crémant de Limoux

Champagne producers can forward all the "reasons" they like for "having" to charge the money they do - area of production = less wine than world demand type ecomonics is the only convincing one knowing how many grapes some growers there squeeze out of each vine - and they can bang on about unique climate and soils blah blah (an element of equally convincing truth even though bottled-fermented fizz is essentially naturally shaped by the way it's made rather than so-called terroir). But, when you try a "traditional method" sparkling wine from, say, Limoux (western Languedoc) as tasty as this one - Delmas 2004 Crémant de Limoux, aged for 2 years on the yeast-lees giving it nice toastiness and roundness on top of its refreshing tangy side - which at €6.99 presumably gives them a desirable profit margin, you've gotta wonder, no? (It was organically produced too, which might even bump up their costs a little.) I know it's been said before but there's nothing like sipping tangible proof of something to warm you up into a slight rant!

21 April 2008

Languedoc: Domaine de Martinolles, Limoux

UPDATED May 2012 - see link below.

Domaine de Martinolles

Located roughly between Limoux and Carcassonne outside the village of Saint-Hilaire (the abbey here is said to be where the Blanquette traditional method sparkling style was first conceived), you'll eventually find the Vergnes family's cellar, tasting room and holiday gite at the end of a twisty track off the 'main' road (you'll see a kind of embossed stone obelisk marking the entrance). Once you've passed through vineyards and olive trees, all you have to do is manoeuvre your car around a couple of snoozing dogs blocking the drive, after they've checked you out and given an approving 'woof'. Guardians of a fairly classic range, if you like, especially their Crémant (the Vergnes' obviously, although perhaps one of the hounds is a part-time winemaker).
I digress: these wines were tasted in April 2008 at the estate:

2006 Limoux blanc 'vieilles vignes' (Chardonnay 13.5%) - quite big, fat and toasty yet also has fairly rich rounded fruit and refreshing finish. €7.70 87
2005 Limoux rouge (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Syrah) - perfumed 'garrigue' tones with spicy plum and black cherry fruit, moves on to a bitter chocolate v liquorice palate with fresh but rounded tannins. €5.40 87
2006 Blanquette de Limoux (mostly Mauzac 12.5%) - shows a nice mix of fresh and crisp v biscuity and more exotic fruit; finishing with elegant dry length. €6.20 87
2005 Crémant de Limoux (Chardonnay Chenin blanc Pinot Noir 12.5%) - more generous and classier displaying fine oily toasty fruit v crisp, stylish and long finish. €8 90+

LATEST MARTINOLLES VINTAGES REVIEWED HERE (Limoux fizz report 2012).

11250 Saint-Hilaire. Tel: 04 68 69 41 93, www.martinolles.com.

09 April 2008

Languedoc: Domaine de Fourn / Robert, Limoux

UPDATED 2012 - see link at bottom.

This 40-hectare estate, owned by the Robert family and set adrift in the hills not far from the village of Pieusse, is efficiently signposted; otherwise you really would be on a "magical mystery tour" to find it (maybe that's the idea, hush hush and all that). Ardent defenders of the region's distinctive fizz, like Domaine Martinolles below, this is a good place to see how sparkling Limoux is made in the different styles; particularly as the Roberts still use traditional racks to slowly invert the bottles to remove the sediment. This process is mostly automated nowadays, as it is in Champagne and understandably as it's very labour-intensive, where the wines are stored in 'giro-palettes' which jolt every now and then while gradually tilting the bottles. Blanquette is made mainly from the Mauzac variety (90+%) with some Chardonnay and Chenin blanc, depending on producer preference, and can be Brut (quite dry with about 8-10 grams per litre residual sugar (RS) v towards high acidity) or Demi-Sec (actually quite sweet). Crémant is always dry (similar Brut spec. to above) and often based on Chardy and Chenin with some Pinot Noir. Both styles undergo second fermentation in bottle and must be aged on the fine yeast-lees for at least nine months before being disgorged: the best, and certainly the most interesting wines are aged for much longer. The Méthode Ancestrale style is a bit of a local curiosity ("for local people" perhaps) and can be quite attractive: 100% Mauzac, sweet (50+ g/l RS) and refreshingly light in alcohol (around 7%) making them nice with fruit desserts, for example.

I tasted these Robert wines in situ in April 2008:
2004 Blanquette de Limoux Brut Carte Noire (90% Mauzac + Chardy Chenin,12% alc.) - quite fine and appley with light biscuity development and ageing character; crisp elegant and quite dry v subtle chocolate flavours too. 85-87
2001 Crémant de Limoux Brut (60% Mauzac + Chardy Chenin, 12.5%) - richer nuttier aromas, more cakey flavours v quite dry & elegant acidity; nice length and style showing age v finesse. 89
2004 Crémant de Limoux Brut (50% Chardy 30% Chenin Pinot Mauzac, 12%) - tighter and fresher with delicate toasted biscuit flavours, again attractively fine & crisp length. 88-90
2006 Blanquette Ancestrale Doux (100% Mauzac, 7%) - pleasant, buoyant and sweet balanced by nice acidity; try with light desserts. 85

LATEST VINTAGES REVIEWED HERE (Sparkling Limoux report May 2012).

11300 Pieusse. Tel: 04 68 31 15 03, www.robert-blanquette.com.

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