Saturday, January 3, 2009

Saint-Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux Extra Dry Sparkling White Wine (2004)

(Those are strawberry bits in the glass on the left, in case you were wondering...)

I suppose it's only fitting that my first post of 2009 is a champagne sparkling white wine. Interestingly enough, though the Saint-Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux fails to qualify as a champagne because it comes from the wrong region of France, I found several sources that claim that monks were making this sparkling wine 150 years before the first "real" champagne. Sort of the Trappist ale of sparkling wines, I suppose... Snagged a bottle of the brut (extra dry) for $13 on my way home from work on New Year's Eve.

If you've read this blog before, you know I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to wine. That being said, I don't know if sparkling wines like this get a discount because they're not technically champagne, but I thought this drank way above its price tag. Like all New Year's beverages, it poured an effervescent light straw color with a rapidly-dissipating head. The nose was a wonderful combination of sweet grapes and honey with some subtle bready yeast notes.

Tasting the wine, I actually found it to be a bit sweet for a brut, though my wife disagreed (and she likes her wine quite dry) so maybe I'm just getting too used to dry wines. Regardless, it was a good, fruity sweet rather than a cheap, syrupy sweet. It's hard for me to pick out the specific sweet flavors (white grape juice would seem a bit redundant) but I would say there's some honey and cotton candy in the profile. As you swallow, the acidity keeps the sweetness from being cloying, along with a dryness of grape skins and apple peel. The finish is just dry enough to leave you coming back for another sip without becoming mouth-puckering.

Overall, a great wine to start off the New Year. I seriously wonder if this sparkling wine would be substantially more expensive if it were produced in the Champagne region of France. Either way, a great wine at a great price. On the patented Chibebräu Wine scale (skip it, only if it's on sale, or buy it again), this one is definitely a buy it again. Happy New Year!


Leah said...

Keep in mind that your wife may not be the best person to judge extra dry right now either. It may well have been super sweet and I had not a clue due to the sinus infection...

Anonymous said...

Someone gave me a bottle of the 2008 for my birthday and I have to say, I'm with you -- it totally drank way better than its price range!

It wasn't as yeasty or complicated or dry as the ones from the champagne region, but it was still totally drinkable and I'll buy it again.

They need to fix up its daggy label, though.