I’m here near Carcassonne, and what should I be drinking but Limoux, still rather than the better-known sparkling. And indeed, it is red, rather rarer than the white. Hungry for a little background information, and without a single book by my side, just a laptop, I turn to the internet. Googling brings up Wikipedia, an authoritative site of encyclopedia-style write-ups written by…..well, who knows? At least with Jancis Robinson’s Oxford Companion you get some background info on the authors (although that doesn’t necessarily make it right – see below).
I suppose I should be flattered that Wikipedia cites Winedoctor so regularly; certainly any Bordeaux profile there seems to rely heavily on my site, with Latour perhaps one of the best examples, as do other profiles outside of Bordeaux – such as Musar. But there are certainly problems with Wikipedia, and although I have never been involved with the project I would suggest, tentatively, that this is largely down to the knowledge possessed by the authors, and having the knowledge of appropriate resources. Being interested in wine isn’t enough to be able to author an encyclopedia entry – you really have to know what you are talking about.
Back to that Limoux page. From Wikipedia:
“The first textual mention of blanquette, from the Occitan word for “white”, appeared in 1531″. Not quite: it is more specific than that, perhaps “little white one” would be better. And how does that link to Mauzac? Wikipedia doesn’t tell us, but it reflects the soft, downy, white underside of the Mauzac’s leaves.
“Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are also grown in the area and while they are not currently permitted in any Limoux AOC wines, they are used in the Vin de pays wines sold as Vin de pays de la Haute Vallée de l’Aude.” Nope. Red AC Limoux can include both these varieties; INAO documentation makes this clear. Merlot makes up a minimum 50%, Grenache/Cot/Syrah/Carignan make up a minimum 30%, leaving anything from 0-20% for the two Cabernets, legally permissible in the blend. Sadly the text cites the Oxford Companion as the source of this error – perhaps an example of the old maxim that a printed academic text is out-dated as soon as it is published.
“After nine months, the bottles are opened and sediment is filtered out before a final corking.” Filtered? Rather a strange way to describe disgorgement. Perhaps the author has never really investigated how sparkling wines are made.
On Blanquette de Limoux: “An alternative process exists in which only Mauzac grapes are used, the fermentation is entirely natural, and the bottling occurs on a day of astrological significance. This version typically contains less than 7% alcohol.” That’s the Méthode Ancestrale – described again later in the article.
Anyway, enough nit-picking; I’ve just finished my first-ever bottle of red Limoux and the evening is drawing to a close. This week I hope to get out and taste some more examples from this appellation, white, red and of course fizzy.