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Showing posts with label French sparkling wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label French sparkling wine. Show all posts

12 November 2013

Champagne & Sparkling wine tasting Dec 3 Belfast

WineWriting.com Richard Mark James' wine blog: Champagne & Sparkling wine tasting Dec 3 Belfast: "Don't miss the bubbling-with-excitement Wine Education Service NI Champagne & Sparkling wine tutored tasting..." CLICK ABOVE to view details on my other blog. Will probably include a fine sparkling Limoux...

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


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.


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...

03 April 2010

Languedoc: Château Rives-Blanques, Limoux

Château Rives-Blanques

Jan and Caryl Panman own the neighbouring vineyard to Domaine Bégude (both of them lie above the village of Cépie: follow the signs past and keep going up the lane for five minutes), which they bought over 10 years ago from Eric Vialade, who still works here overseeing vineyards and cellar. The hospitable enthusiastic Panmans only make white and sparkling wines - although their new vintage Crémant de Limoux rosé has a dash of Pinot Noir in it sourced from elsewhere - which they’ll be happy to taste with you after showing you around some of their picturesque vines. These lie on a plateau, although slightly above Bégude, and are farmed in the "most environmentally friendly way" they can, with a couple of plots of old-vine Mauzac undergoing an organic trial (the whole vineyard used to be, but the previous owner was plagued by a certain disease in the mid-90s and was forced to treat with systemic sprays). Talking of Mauzac, Caryl and Jan are vociferous champions of this local variety, which, apart from being used for their sparkling wines, has been transformed into an unusual barrel-aged dried white called Occitania. Others worth trying include their fine Odyssée Limoux Chardonnay, a complex dry Chenin Blanc called Dédicace, La Trilogie (a barrel-selection blend of all three grapes not necessarily made every year) and occasionally a luscious late-harvest passerillé Chenin-Mauzac name after their daughter Xaxa. 

I tried these in situ in April 2010 (read on for 2011 & 2012 updates):
Blanquette de Limoux (90% Mauzac 10% Chenin Blanc, 12.5% alc, 3.5g/l residual sugar) - lightly yeasty and appley on the nose; crisp and refreshing, pretty dry and lively finish, nice clean elegant style. 85+
2007 Crémant de Limoux rosé (ChardonnayChenin BlancPinot Noir) - gentle red fruits with appley vs lightly bready notes; tight fine and crisp mouth-feel, again refreshingly dry vs fuller oilier finish. 87+
2009 Chardonnay-Chenin Blanc vin de pays d'Oc - attractive zesty style vs lightly exotic peachy fruit; turns more citrus zingy and crisp vs a hint of yeast-lees creaminess. 85+
2008 Cuvée Occitania Limoux (100% Mauzac from plots undergoing organic conversion) - a touch of coconut oak and lees on the nose, turning oilier vs wild floral and honeyed aromas/flavours plus fennel and aniseed tones too; rounded with underlying spicy coconut notes vs oily / mineral texture, quite well-handled oak giving something a bit different too. 87
2008 Dédicace Chenin Blanc (13%) - juicy melon fruit vs rounder oily creamy texture; quite elegant and steely finish, closes up on itself although it's promising...
2007 Dédicace Chenin Blanc (13%) - maturing oily notes with coconut edges; attractive ripe melon fruit vs mineral bite, hints of oak spice on its creamy vs fairly steely finish. 87+
2006 Dédicace Chenin Blanc (13%) - more developed oily nose (almost old Riesling-like "petrol"), oxidising and complex; nice rounded towards buttery palate vs greener edges, enticing lingering flavours. 89(+)
2008 Odyssée Limoux (Chardonnay 13.5%) - aromatic citrus notes with underlining buttery, oily and lightly toasty profile; good balance of juicy leesy mouth-feel vs weight and subtle oak spice vs crisp and long. 88-90
2008 Trilogie Limoux (mostly Chenin Blanc ChardonnayMauzac) - a tad exotic and peachy vs nutty and coconut; quite refined and steely vs fatter more powerful side, oily "sweet" texture vs greener fruit and zesty lees; again subtle oak handling, promising. 89-91
2008 Sauvageon (Sauvignon Blanc, 35% new oak) - toasty edges with green pepper and kiwi fruit tones; fatter mouth-feel with oily coconut and slight punch vs crisp and interesting finish. Not everyone's cup of tea though. 85+
2004 Xaxa (late-harvest passerillé 60% Chenin 40% Mauzac, 14% alc & 90g/l RS) - complex nose/palate with marmalade and toasted honey vs orange/lemon peel; has refreshing "cut" and a bit of weight vs that sweetness, lovely balance and style in fact. 90+

Quite a few independent merchants in the US and UK list these wines, including James Nicholson in Northern Ireland.

UPDATES: latest R-B here (Limoux report April 2011)...
And here (Limoux fizz May 2012).

11300 Cépie. Tel: 04 68 31 43 20, www.rives-blanques.com.


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