The last day with Yvonne and Pauline they decided they wanted to visit Limoux. It was a laid back day before they flew back to their hectic lives in London. Being Monday, many shops are closed. That is fairly common here in France. Unfortunately, that will mean another trip to Limoux for the spectacular cheese shop there…
The day started out a bit grey but the clouds finally moved on and by lunch we were enjoying the sunshine.
But first a stop in one of many wine shops. While a variety of wines are available the specialty of Limoux is something called Blanquette.
Blanquette de Limoux The Original Sparkling Wine
Blanquette de Limoux was the first sparkling wine which dates back to 1531. At the Benedictine abbey, Saint-Hilaire near Limoux the monks were producing an usual white wine in a unique fashion. The wine was being fermented in flasks of glass with a cork top instead of the traditional oak vats. This resulted in a natural sparkle in the wine. Blanquette is made exclusively from Chardonnay and Mauzac grape varieties which give it that dry,creamy and full-bodied wine with a clean taste, a long full finish and fruity aromas.
It seems a young monk named Dom Pérignon stayed at Saint-Hilaire long enough to learn the process as he headed north from Spain. Later, upon arrival in the Champagne region, he passes the technique off as his own.
Despite legends to the contrary, Dom Pérignon did not invent sparkling wine. However, he was able to make valuable contributions to the quality and production of Champagne wine.
Having enjoyed both Blanquette and Champagne on a number of occasions, it is Blanquette that I buy, have on hand and serve to friends and visitors. It is Blanquette that I provide for celebrations. Like many things, it is a personal choice. However the taste of Blanquette is un-equaled. If you can find it where you are, I highly recommend you give it a try. If not, you might consider coming to the south of France.
Limoux is one of the few places where I have seen Blanquette available by the glass at a restaurant, bar or café. À votre santé!