While the name of J.L. Denois may be one for the modern day masses, Jean-Louis (the J.L. in the name) started out as a humble grape-grower and winemaker. He purchased his first Pinot Noir vineyard in 1988 and shortly thereafter Chardonnay in 1989. In 1991 this innovative man planted the first Pinot Champagne clones: a softer skinned relative of an already thin-skinned grape — delicate is a mild description here.
His estate vineyards are located in the Aude Valley, just in the Pyrenees foothills on the Languedoc’s southwestern edge. With Atlantic breezes that swoop through the Valley throughout the day, this is the ideal cool-climate for picking crisp grapes, ripe with acidity — perfect for crafting sparkling wine.
About the Wine: The J.L. Denois Tradition: Extra Brut Pinot Chardonnay is a dry sparkling wine comprised of organically-grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes from the upper valley of Languedoc.
*J.L. Denois makes all their sparkling wine in the methode traditionelle. Read more about the traditional method of making sparkling wine: Pop the Cork on Sparkling Wine.)*
Grape varieties are whole-cluster pressed separately, with each vineyard lot’s first-run juices going through primary fermentation in vats then mixing wine from the reserve in oak barrels. Second fermentation takes place in bottle, aging sur lies for approximately 3 years. The sparkling wine is then riddled to remove sediment and receives a small amount of dosage before corking (approximately 5 grams of sugar per liter).
Flavor Profile: Pop the cork of the J.L. Denois Extra Brut Pinot Chardonnay and breathe in aromas of the salty, sandy beach. In the glass this sparkling wine is a pale golden, light straw color — quite luminescent and happy. Initial aromas are, indeed, quite beachy — yes of the sand and salinity, but also of subtle tropical stone fruits and the near negligible aromatics of orchids. All these elements combine together to remind me of an island paradise.
The palate of this brut is just wow. The funk of the fruits set the scene, but it is very much a dry sparkling wine. There’s a bit of sourness that lingers on the finish, which actually acts as a refreshing palate cleanser, while the after-breath is filled with a nutty-floral-grassy flavor that has you reaching for a second sip.
More Info: I received the J.L. Denois Extra Brut Pinot Chardonnay as a sample for review. (Cheers Megan!) For more information about J.L. Denois, their wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Jean-Louis Denois website.
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