Your Wine IQ

Limoux


Wine By Region Right Europe Right France Right Languedoc-Roussillon Right Limoux


Limoux is an appellation located in the Languedoc known mostly for its sparkling wine. However, the Limoux AOC system now also includes red wine. The stylistically diverse, reasonably priced sparkling wines are considered the Languedoc's best, and are proof of its versatility as a wine region.

Produced by an ancient method that may have been invented as early as 1531, the sparkling wines were the first of their kind in the world, and this region remains impressive for having achieved this historical milestone. Although there are now some regular Champagne-style wines, the original style, known as "Blanquette de Limoux", remains popular.

History

Limoux has a history as rich as its wines. Before sparkling wine was discovered, Limoux made generally plain white wines from Chardonnay or other common grapes. However, sometime around 1531, textual mentions of "Blanquette de Limoux" were found, and thus it is assumed that at least since the 16th century, sparkling wine was produced in Limoux. It should be noted that this was over 200 years before Champagne came to prominence. Limoux soon became well-known for their sparkling wines, and until Champagne's rise in the mid-19th century, these were among the only examples of bubbly to be had.

During the 20th century the Limoux AOCs were created, and in 2005 the red wines of Limoux were allowed under Limoux AOC. Made mostly from Merlot, these wines are less powerful than the sparkling wines but also can excel. Although Champagne has overtaken Limoux in terms of sparkling wine sales, for many Limoux fans the original remains unreplaceable.

Climate and Viticulture

The windy foothills of the Languedoc appellation don't exactly look perfect for wine production, but the rocky soil in the Limoux area is rich with schist and limestone, and for some reason the weather is slightly cooler than that of the rest of the Languedoc. The warm and cool winds of the Mediterranean and Atlantic, respectively, have their differing influences on Limoux wine.

Grape Varieties

The main grape of the Limoux region is a grape rarely found anywhere else, called Mauzac. Although Mauzac is usually a minority grape in other places, in the sparkling wines of Limoux it is required to make up a majority of the final wine. Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc are becoming more popular in the sparkling examples and are making good varietal still wines.

For the red wines of the Limoux AOC, Merlot must make up at least half the blend, and is usually more. Other allowed grapes include Carignan, Grenache, Malbec, and Syrah. The Cabernets are also allowed, but are together limited to 20% of the blend.

Major Producers

The sparkling wines of Limoux are deemed to be generally reliable, but availability is a larger problem. Here are two producers whose wines can be found regularly outside France and can be trusted for quality as well.

Subregions

The Limoux region consists of four distinct appellations.