Antech Blanquette de Limoux Brut NV
Blanquette de Limoux Réserve, Antech 2018
Although Antech gets its name from vintner Edmond Antech, the property actually dates back over six generations of the Tisseyre-Limouzy family. They began cultivating vines in Saint-Hilaire, and in the early 1900s Eugénie Limouzy was one of the first women in Languedoc to manage a vineyard. It was her niece who married Edmond in 1931, and he was responsible for significantly raising the estate’s profile for many years afterwards. Their sons Georges and Roger took the helm after that, and built on their father’s traditions as well as respecting them.
Today, the vineyards are managed by Georges’ eldest daughter Michèle and her husband Jean-Christophe Chauvière. Since 1996, the cellar has been run by sixth-generation Francoise Antech-Gazeau, who grew up on vineyards before travelling the world, and who now takes to her task with painstaking commitment to every detail. Today Antech produces over a million bottles each year.
Limoux is thought by many to be the birthplace of high-quality sparkling wine production in France: it is rumoured that a monk discovered the process by accident in 1531, after cold temperatures halted his wine’s fermentation, which then began again once it had been bottled and gave the wine its signature effervescence.
The thought of producing high-quality sparkling wine in the south of France may seem odd on first glance, but the climate here is quite unlike the rest of the Languedoc. It is noticeably wetter and greener and benefits much more from influences coming from the Atlantic. The valley of the Aude also brings freshness from the Pyrenees. The result is a microclimate quite unlike the surrounding areas.
The choice of grape varieties has also much more in common with the south-west. Mauzac, also grown in Gaillac, and here known as blanquette due to the white coating on its leaves, is historically the principal grape with chenin, also a native of the south-west, adding acidity. Chardonnay completes the picture for the whites with pinot noir planted for the rosé.
The vineyard area is widely scattered among the hillsides overlooking the Aude, starting a few miles south of the city of Carcassonne to a little beyond Limoux itself. At its heart, of course, is the village of Saint-Hilaire where it all began Antech make wines in two distinct styles. Most is produced using the Champagne method, whereby there is a first fermentation in tank and then, with the addition of yeast and sugar, a second fermentation in bottle. Wines are then left to age for at least a couple of years.
There is also a ‘méthode ancestrale’, which is how the wines were made by the monks at-Saint Hilaire. Only the mauzac grape is permitted and there is only one fermentation, which takes place in bottle. The finished wine is lightly sparkling and quite sweet with a gorgeous flavour of baked apples. This way of making sparkling wine is notoriously difficult to handle and production is very small, but Antech makes one of the finest.
Style: Sparkling Wine/Bone dry
Alcohol: 12% VOL
Oak: No oak influence
Aging: Now to 2024
Closure: Champagne cork
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