Limoux is being credited as the region that made ‘Chardonnay chic again’ (the Guardian) and it has plenty of wine critics nodding their heads in agreement with Victoria Moore of the Telegraph acknowledging she has ‘a real soft spot for this stuff’. The big question is why?
It’s a simple answer. It’s seriously good. So good that it’s being compared to Chablis or White Burgundy. And it’s inexpensive. Both White Burgundy and Chablis are made with Chardonnay but in Limoux this grape is in its element.
- There are 4 terroirs in Limoux that produce Chardonnay: Haute Valle de l’Aude, Mediterraneen, Oceanique and Autant.
The best grapes are those thriving on the high vineyards around Limoux at the door to the Haute Valle de l’Aude in the foothills of the Pyrennees mountains. The surrounding land is incredibly beautiful; castles cling to soaring crags, fortified towns dot the slopes and thermal baths cluster round hot springs. The potential of this wine making region has not gone unnoticed in recent years with Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, of First Growth Chateau Mouton Rothschild, purchasing the local domaine: Baron d’Arques. A wise investment on the Rothschild’s part.
- The Chardonnay vines planted here are particularly valued, as they are some of the oldest in southern France.
Thanks to the high elevation, rocky soils and strong winds coming in off the Mediterranean and Atlantic these Chardonnays have a certain air about them that marks them above the rest. These extreme conditions produce a taut, clean, cool climate Chardonnay. A Chardonnay from the heights. A Chardonnay with Altitude.
- Limoux lies south of the fortified city of Carcassone and west of the Corbieres hills. It’s a region that is famous for its white wines – the sparkling wine made here predates Champagne and legend has it that Dom Perignon learned his craft here.
Limoux is also the home of the Toques et Clochers (Chefs and Steeples) – a gastronomic gala celebrating the region’s Chardonnay. During the festivities a charity auction is held to raise money to repair the 42 bell towers belonging to the appellation. It’s the second largest wine auction in France after Burgundy’s Hospices de Beaune and has been organised by the co-operative Sieur d’Arques since 1990.
Our ‘Wine of the Week’ Pech Notre Dame Chardonnay is made by the same co-operative, Sieur d’Arques. Priced at £7.30, this Chardonnay is named for the Basillica of Notre Dame de Marceille, an ancient church set on a hillside overlooking Limoux (Pech is the local dialect for ‘Mount’ and refers to the hilltop).
Served chilled, you’ll notice that it has delicate aromas of jasmine and a lovely lemon twist on the finish. Its racy flavours of white peach, grapefruit and white cherry make it a delicious match for seafood and shellfish, particularly crab and oysters. It also pairs well with lightly spiced fish, risottos, creamy pastas, cheese based salads (especially goats cheese or sheeps cheese like feta), ham, pork, guinea fowl and chicken.
It’s an exceptionally nice wine and we often find that we are asked to supply it for Weddings and events. Needless to say, it goes down very well indeed!
Want to learn more about wine? Check out our previous wines of the week: