Dry, toasty, smooth and clean Saint Hilaire truly captivates with an
attractive yeasty aroma and luscious creamy texture. The palate is light and crisp with citrus and apple flavors and the body is just hefty
Blanquette de Limoux is probably the oldest sparkling wine in the world. We know that in 1531, the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire were already producing Blanquette de Limoux which certainly makes it France's Oldest Sparkling Wine preceding Champagne by more than a century.
By 1794 Blanquette de Limoux was well known and appreciated throughout France. About that time, it was discovered by a famous American, Thomas Jefferson.
Among his other talents, the third American President was an expert on French Wines and Blanquette de Limoux, one of his favorites, was an integral part of his wine cellar. In fact, President Jefferson was probably the first person to bring the wine to America.
Today, Blanquette de Limoux has won the acclaim of knowledgeable wine enthusiasts throughout the world.
It is sold in the United States under the name SAINT-HILAIRE in honor of the monks who first created the wine more than 475 years ago. One taste of SAINT-HILAIRE quickly reveals why France’s Oldest Sparkling Wine is also its' best.
Learn More About Vintage
Vintage Champagne and Sparkling Wines
Vintage Champagne is made in particularly good years with optimum weather and the best grape selection.
Some houses, like Dom Perignon, only make vintage Champagne,
so they do not produce a wine every year and have no
What makes vintage Champagne better? Well, status for one – many vintage Champagnes are made in small quantities,
so low supply and high demand beefs up the price and the prestige of a vintage bottle. And of course, beyond the
status symbol of vintage Champagne is the taste and care given to the grapes. For vintage Champagne, the grapes
are carefully selected, the blends painstakingly created and the ageing process lovingly prolonged. Vintage Champagnes
are often more complex and flavorful than their non-vintage counterparts, and can often age for up to a decade or two,
although most houses release their bottles at an optimum time for drinking. Vintage Champagne differs from non-vintage
because the winemaker's focus is on that specific year rather than a blend to match the house style.
Sparkling wines from regions that follow the traditional method are apt to create vintage wines as well. These regions
typically enjoy more freedom in their vintage choices. While they only make wines from years they deem worthy of
vintage, they do not have a regulated body to declare a vintage year, so it's to the winemaker's discretion in
making a vintage or non-vintage.
Learn More About Languedoc-Roussillon, France
For being in a country that is known for wine regulations, the Languedoc enjoys a great amount of freedom in its winemaking. With over 700,000 acres under vine, some of the most exciting and best value wines of are coming from this enormous and diverse wine region. Some refer to it as the "new world" of France. The region stretches along the land above the Mediterranean, bordered by the Rhone river on the east and almost reaching Spain on the west. Only 10% of the wines from the area are AC, with the remaining wines often landing in the Vin de Pays or Vin de Table category. Wines in the Vin de Pays category are classified here as Vin de Pays d'Oc.
80% of the wines here are red. The grapes of the neighboring Rhone region are popular, with the focus on Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsaut and to a lesser extent, Carignan. White grapes include Rousanne, Marsanne, Clairette and other white Rhone varieties. Parts of the region are also enjoying success with international varieties like Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. For many of these international style wines, you'll see the grape variety on the label – very un-French, but since they qualify as Vin de Pays d'Oc, it's allowed. Not so for the AC wines of the region, which are relegated to using most of the regional varieties and labeling their bottles by region. Appellations in the Languedoc include Corbières, Minervois, Costières de Nimes, Banyuls and the largest of them all, Coteaux de Languedoc. Corbières and Minervois are found on the western side of the region and produce sometimes very concentrated red wines. Costières de Nimes lies just southwest of the Rhone and produces wines of comparable character. Banyuls creates decadent fortified wines with Grenache and Coteaux de Langeudoc does triple duty, using international and regional grapes to produce white, red and rose wines that are often fantastic values.
A region located between the Spanish border and Languedoc, Roussillon is often mentioned in conjunction with Languedoc, but is an entirely separate, albeit smaller, area. Producing white, red and rose wines, Roussillon is in the Catalonia region, which bleeds into Spain and France. The area has equal amount of Spanish influence as it does French. It is most well-known for Banyuls, a potent dessert wine made from concentrated old-vine Grenache. Vines are old and planted on steep, rocky, terraced hillsides overlooking the coast. The region is also making still wines, mostly from Grenache but with a good amount of Carignan as well.