Limoux is an appellation of southern France’s Languedoc region. In an area that’s primarily focused on the production of red wine, Limoux is considered somewhat of a “sparkling wine oasis.” Here, bubbles are crafted using the methode traditionelle or methode champenoise (aka the traditional Champagne method), but this Antech-Limoux Cuvée Brut Nature is an interesting take on that sparkling wine tradition, blending together a few non-traditional varietals…
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.
Sparkling wine — a popular choice surrounding parties, celebrations, and most certainly the holiday season. I use the term “sparkling wine,” because it is frowned upon (no, not illegal) to call a wine Champagne unless it comes from the actual Champagne region in France. But before we pop the cork on a few sparkling wine (and, yes, a few Champagne) reviews, let’s talk about what makes bubbles so special.
I don’t often write about sparkling wines because I feel like they live in a world all their own. But when I popped the cork on this J Cuvée 20 Brut, I seemed to have entered the realm in which they live. Beautifully light and refreshing, yet profoundly complex and structured. A sip of this sparkle simultaneously released me and engaged me. Cheers to that.
So I asked Adobe Roads winemaker Garrett Martin what method he uses to create sparkling wine and his answer was just too good not to share verbatim:
“This is a good story! My production space is right next to Lagunitas brewery. The folks over there are fantastic and good friends. When I got the creative inspiration to make a sparkling rosé I walked next door and chatted with them about the process – I mean, they make beverages sparkle every day! With some of their advice, I began running small scale experiments adding CO2 to kegs of rosé and eventually bottling in swing-top bottles. We had enough positive feedback that we took it from that ‘proof of concept’ phase to full production. I bottled the full-package bottling with another friend who has a sparkling wine bottling line. The short answer is that I use the Charmat method, but I like the full story more!”
Next I have to ask him about the time he put the sparkling rosé into a keg-tapping system designed for beer’s low-level carbonation. “Boom! Rosé mess everywhere…”