This lovely sparkling Cremant comes from the award winning organic Carretero vineyards at Chateau Rioublanc in Saint Ciers d’Abzac, not far from Pomerol and Saint Emilion. Rioublanc is certified both ‘Agriculture Biologique,’ ‘Ecocert’ and ‘EU Organic’ and the vines here not been fed chemical fertilizer for at least 20 years. The chateau dates from the beginning of the 19th century and is a classically beautiful ‘Girondine’ white house. Rioublanc takes its name from the little streams and stones that crisscross the plateau (‘riou’ is the Occitan word for stream and ‘blanc’ refers to the white blocks of stone used to construct the chateau).
The vineyards sit high on a silty clay plateau peppered with iron deposits that favour the growing of white grapes. On acquiring Rioublanc back in 1963 the Carretero family began a long term plan to improve the vineyard with the utmost respect for the environment and quality of the wine. A remarkable vineyard has been shaped over the years. Their sparkling Cremant is made to the same exacting methods as Champagne and recently received a star from Guide Hachette des Vins.
Rioublanc’s grapes are hand harvested early in the morning so that they arrive at the presses in the cool dawn air to protect the aromas. After a gentle pressing no sulphites are added and the pure juice undergoes two fermentations, the second being in bottle deep underground in the old limestone quarry cellars under the hill of Saint Emilion. The Cremant is laid down for a minimum of 12 months to refine and enrich its flavour. When the fermentation is complete the bottles are tipped by hand, to bring the lees to the neck to be expelled in the traditional way – under its own pressure (known as dégorgement à la volée).
Perfect for festive occasions, Rioublanc’s organic Cremant de Bordeaux makes a crisp, refreshing aperitif. However it’s also excellent with food including Thai coconut curry, goats cheese, avocado and smoked bacon salad, chicken and cashew nut stir fry, squid, oysters and caviar.