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guinot.limoux@hotmail.fr

guinot.limoux

Copyright GUINOT - Maison GUINOT - 3 Av. du Chemin de Ronde - BP74 - 11304 Limoux Cedex - FRANCE - Tél : +33 04.68.31.01.33 - Fax : +33 04.68.31.60.05 - Email : guinot@blanquette.fr

Maison GUINOT

3 Av. du Chemin de Ronde

BP 74

11304 Limoux Cedex

FRANCE

Tél : +33 04.68.31.01.33

Fax : +33 04.68.31.60.05

Mail : guinot@blanquette.fr

GPS : 40°03'08"N

          02°13'23"E

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« French village claims for sparkling wine »


LIMOUX, France (CNN) -- Close to the Spanish border in the foothills of the Pyrenees, a French

village stands proud with history as it claims to be the birthplace of sparkling wine.

Surrounded by hilly countryside and a bounty of vineyards, Limoux attracts tourists for more than its scenery. The experience of sitting at a cafe in the city's heart, the Place de la Republique, and sipping a chilled glass of the effervescent Blanquette de Limoux is what lures visitors to this 2,000-year-old village.

Equally enchanting is the charm of Limoux's history. In the mid-16th century, monks of the nearby Abbey of St. Hilaire developed a method of making sparkling wine almost 200 years before their rivals to the north. Present-day Champagne producers dismiss this notion, although the famed monk Dom Perignon did pass through Limoux before moving to Champagne.

The method developed by the monks in Limoux is called methode ancestrale. In this process, the bottle is sealed before the fermentation is complete, which creates natural bubbles in the wine.

Unfortunately, this process leaves too much yeast sediment trapped in the bottle. Developing a more sophisticated style, producers from the Champagne region invented methode champenoise, which yields a sparkling wine without the sediment.

Most modern producers of Blanquette use methode champenoise. It is still possible, though, to find among small or private producers a bottle of vintage bubbly made according to methode ancestrale. By law, only producers in the Champagne region can officially call their sparkling wine Champagne -- just as only producers in the area surrounding Limoux can market their sparkling wine with the name Blanquette.

Traditions from generations past I toured the wine cellar of the one of the oldest family-run producers of Blanquette, Maison Guinot, which began in 1875. General director Michel Rancoule-Guinot oversees all production operations, including picking, harvesting, juicing and bottling.

French wine cellars are called caves, a fitting name for the underground location of Maison Guinot's cellar. Its cave is cool and damp, lit by only a few bare bulbs hanging from the ceiling. As we weave though a maze of wine racks, Rancoule-Guinot reveals some of the tricks of making Blanquette.

The rooms are filled with hundreds of black bottles, all slanted cork down to settle the yeast. After the wine is bottled and corked, workers must rotate the slanted bottles daily until all the yeast has settled into the neck of the bottle. Later, using techniques of methode champenoise, the bottles are uncorked to release the sediment and then quickly sealed again...

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