Limoux wines are crafted around the town of Limoux in south-west corner of the Languedoc region in France. They are produced under 4 AOP designations: Blanquette de Limoux, Blanquette Méthode Ancestrale, Crémant de Limoux and Limoux. The first 3 are sparkling wines that dominate production around Limoux. The main grape varietal of the region is Mauzac Blanc, locally known as Blanquette, then Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc.
Now known as Limoux AOP - this classification include red wines made typically from Merlot. Records suggest that the world's first sparkling wine was produced in this region in 1531, by the monks at the Abbey in Saint-Hilaire. Limous is situated just south of the impressive fortified city of Carcassonne and before the foothills of the Pyrénées that border Spain.

 

The climate is dominated by the strong winds of the region, influenced by both the Atlantic and Mediterranean. The soils across the region are rocky with clay, sandstone and limestone, creating a distinct terroir. Despite being located at a southern latitude, the climate is actually cooler than most of the southern France wine regions.
Records show that trade in non-sparkling wines from Limoux; date back to Roman occupation of the region. ‘Blanquette de Limoux’ is considered to be the first sparkling white wine produced in France, created before Champagne. The first recorded mention of ‘Blanquette’, comes from the Occitan expression for ‘the small white’, appeared in 1531 in papers written by Benedictine monks at an Abbey in Saint-Hilaire.
In 1938 - 'Blanquette de Limoux' became one of the early AOCs established in the Languedoc region. Prior to 1993, the only non-sparkling still wine that Limoux producers made under the AOC designation was Mauzac. Varietal wines Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc were permitted but all white wines were required to contain a minimum of 15% Mauzac. Producers wanting to make a 100% Chardonnay, or a wine without Mauzac, have to produce their wines as ‘Vin de Pays d'Oc’.
Limoux was the first AOC to enforce barrel fermentation for its white wines. The local red wines must contain a minimum of 50% Merlot - with other varietal Grenache, Malbec and Syrah. Carignan was permitted in the blend until 2010 when the varietal was phased out completely. Together there must be at least 3 grape varieties in the blend with no two single varietals exceeding 90% of the final blend.
The still white wines of the Limoux AOp vary depending on the primary grape. Mauzac adds a lifted acidity and requires time in the bottle before the more subtle, floral flavours express themselves. Chardonnay dominant wines from the region can be more approachable in their youth and tend to have a rich, full bodied with citrus and integrated oak notes.
'Crémant de Limoux' sparkling wines differ from 'Blanquette de Limoux' in their grape mix; with Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc being the dominant varietals. Together they can not exceed 90% of the wine. For Chenin Blanc, a minimum of 20% and a maximum of 40% must be used. Mauzac and Pinot Noir are accessory varietals and can not exceed 20% together with Pinot Noir itself not exceeding 10%. Thus, Crémant de Limoux contains 40-70% Chardonnay, 20-40% Chenin Blanc, 10-20% Mauzac and 0-10% Pinot Noir. AOP regulations state that the wine must be aged for a least one year on its lees prior to disgorgement. There are now over 40 villages around the town of Limoux recognised to make Crémant de Limoux.