Blanquette de Limoux is produced around the city of Limoux, in Languedoc in southwestern France. It benefits from an Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC). There are two kinds of Blanquette : Blanquette de Limoux, and Blanquette méthode ancestrale.
Blanquette de Limoux
The name Blanquette de Limoux has been used for a long time for the sparkling wines from Limoux. "Blanquette" actually just means "white" in the local Occitan language. Blanquette de Limoux can contain three grape varieties: Mauzac which must constitute a minimum of 90% of the wine, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc.
The taste of this Mauzac based wine is unique, with apple flavors and distinctive aromas of fresh cut grass.
When the three grapes are pressed, the juices, clear and pure, are collected separately to ferment and form the ’têtes de cuvées’. After fermentation, the juices are blended in proportions that differ for each winemaker, and that give each Blanquette its personality.
A blend of non-sparkling wine, sugar and yeast, called liqueur de tirage, is then added to the juices, to provoque a second fermentation. The wine get sparkling, and must wait on its lees in the bottle for 9 months.
The sediment which remains in wine is brought towards the neck of the bottle by the remuage (stirring), a daily manual operation. The neck of the bottle is frozen to allow the evacuation of the deposit. Before corking the bottles, sugar and wines are added once more to produce a dry, half-sweet or sweet wine.
The colour is a pale yellow, bright, with yellow or green glints. The aromas evoque spring flowers and fruit, apple and honey.
It may be savoured preferably within two years after its acquisition, to accompany a whole meal, from the 11.appetizer to the dessert ; it goes well with chocolate desserts.
Blanquette méthode ancestrale
Invented in 1531 by the monks of St-Hilaire, the Blanquette méthode ancestrale is a sweetish sparkling wine made in a more old-fashioned way.
It may only contain Mauzac. Due to the absence of disgorgement, these wines are generally very cloudy with particles of the sediment of dead yeast cells, known as lees, still present in the wine. The resulting wines are typically low in alcohol (often less than 7% by volume), with sweet apple-like flavors and a slight sparkling fizz.
Bottling of this wine traditionally occurred on a day of astrological significance, always in March, when the moon is waning (’old moon’). Some say that the people who tried to bottle at another period failed to master the effervescence.
This light wine, with a delicate and aromatic note, is perfect to conclude a meal. To make the most of a bottle of Blanquette Méthode Ancestrale, put it standing in the fridge during a few hours, then uncork it just before drinking, without stirring : the deposit will stay in the bottom.
The Blanquette Méthode Ancestrale comes at the end of a meal, to mary with apple desserts, pancakes, soufflés, exotic fruit pies, and almond galette des rois.