The oldest sparkling wine in the world
A guest blog from Chateau Rives-Blanc, Limoux
Bella and Steven were lucky enough to stay at some beautiful vineyards this summer in Italy and France. One of their most memorable visits was to Château Rives-Blanc in the Limoux, producers of the world’s oldest sparkling wine. Here, vineyard owner Caryl Panman tells us more about this special drink and the land it comes from.
‘Blanquette de Limoux was established in 1938 and is the oldest appellation of the Languedoc. But it was with us long before then, and is in fact the first known sparkling wine in the world, discovered by Benedictine monks in Limoux in the early 1540s. The calligraphy on our bottle label is lifted from the carbon-dated documents in the Carcassonne archives that tell of the world’s first sparkling wine.
The appellation rules for Blanquette de Limoux state it should be 90% mauzac minimum, with the remaining 10% open for chenin blanc and / or chardonnay. We tend to do 100% mauzac, simply because we generally prefer it, and with zero dosage, for the same reason, but of course that’s not written in stone, it depends on the vintage. Mauzac Blanc is also grown in Gaillac, but there is more grown in Limoux, and the two are not quite the same. Here at Rives-Blanques we love our mauzac. We have old vines, and they are very beautiful.
The Rives-Blanques vineyard is named after one of the peaks of the Pyrenees, visible on its horizon. We think it is one of the most beautiful views, seen from one of the most beautiful vineyards, on a high terrace of the Aude valley, surrounded by woodland and a protected nature reserve. We are completely organic, having flip-flopped from sustainable to organic and back again a few times. We were the first and only producers to explore the whole range of Limoux blanc: a chardonnay (our flagship wine); a chenin blanc (the best white of the Top 30 Languedoc Whites in Decanter’s July/August issue); and the mauzac. We also make two blends, of which our limited-edition barrel-selection, la Trilogie, is our attempt at ‘the best’. We have no red wines at all, though we are planning to plant some pinot next spring.
Blanquette has great mouth-cleansing properties and makes a delicious wine for between-courses or with spicy fish and curries.