Must-Try of the Week: 2010 Saint-Hilaire Brut Sparkling Wine (Blanquette de Limoux AOC)

Who doesn’t love a good bottle of Champagne? Who wouldn’t love it more if it cost a whole lot less? If you answered “Moi!” to both, your ship has come in.

But first, let’s take care of some housekeeping. “Champagne” only comes from the Champagne region of France. If it’s not from there, it isn’t Champagne. Yes, yes, I know there are a couple of California sparkling wines that use that term on their labels. But they’re NOT Champagne—they were grandfathered in after a trade agreement in 2005, which put a halt to new brands using the trademark “Champagne” after that date.

OK, let’s move on to other sparkling wines from France. Cremant, or Blanquette are also sparkling wines from France, but, from outside of the Champagne region. Could be from Burgundy, or Alsace, or the South of France. So, we’re in the same church, but a different pew.

Blanquette de Limoux is from the Languedoc region of France, and 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.

This 2010 Saint-Hilaire is a beauty. It has a hint of fresh-baked dough in aroma, great mouthfeel, lightly citrused flavors with just a touch of creaminess, and best of all, it cleanses your palate while working nicely with foods. What kind of foods? Try EVERYTHING! Yes, everything from soup to nuts. I enjoyed it with a tuna sandwich and potato chips. At BestWinesOnline or Hi-Time Cellars for the princely sum of $9.98 or less.