Blanquette Wine is a sparkling wine that is drier and more subdued than Champagne — as well as being historically older than it. It is made in the vicinity of Limoux in the Aude area of France.
It is produced in sweetnesses of Brut, Demi-sec and Doux (dry, semi-dry and sweet.)
The “base” grape used is the Mauzac grape, called Blanquette by the locals, meaning “the small white (one).”
Blanquette Wine is rendered sparkling by a second fermentation in the bottle. After 9 months, the wines are rebottled and sold on.
In addition to there being three sweetness grades, there are three classifications:
- Blanquette Traditional (aka Blanquette de Limoux): Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc grapes are blended with 90% Mauzac. The grapes are made into wine separately, then blended, then bottled with a small amount of sugar and yeast being added to produce bubbles. After 9 months, rebottled. 12% alcohol.
- Vin de Blanquette (aka Blanquette méthode ancestrale): Only Mauzac grapes are used. The wine is not rebottled to get rid of sediment, thus it will be cloudier. No modern equipment such as steel vats, etc, can be used. Bottled in March. Sweeter. 7% alcohol or less.
- Crémant de Limoux: This classification was created in 1990. It allows makers to use up to 70% Chardonnay, along with Chenin Blanc, Mauzac, and some Pinot Noir if they wish. 12% alcohol.
Blanquette Wine doesn’t age well; use within 2 years.
Blanquette Wine originated at St Hilaire Abbey near Limoux.
It has been made since 1531. This date comes from records at the abbey detailing the production of wine there. In 1531, some monks put the wine into corked glass flasks instead of the usual vats. They noticed that bubbles started appearing.
Literature & Lore
Locals in Limoux claim that Dom Pierre Pérignon travelled or passed through here to learn the secrets of sparkling wine — but that’s them answering the marketing myths of Pérignon rather than the facts — Pierre Pérignon actually worked to get the bubbles out of his wine, he didn’t want it sparkling.
Hando, Solange. Blanquette de Limoux, French Sparkling Wine. 1 October 2009. Retrieved from http://france-travel.suite101.com/article.cfm/blanquette_de_limoux_french_sparkling_wine