La Blanquette

The simple answer is that the house and grounds were actually called ‘La Blanquette’ when we bought it in 2011!

However, initially we couldn’t find a direct French to English translation (other than guessing at ‘the whiteness’ or ‘white-ish-thing’) that didn’t reference ‘stew’ as in ‘blanquette de veau’ – veal stew.

Not wanting the business to be called after a stew, we started to think of other names for the house, until we happened to stumble on another ‘La Blanquette’… La Blanquette de Limoux!

La Blanquette B&B

It’s no secret among our friends that all of us here like a nice tipple, and one of our favourites is a good glass of sparkling wine or champagne, so we immediately sought a bottle of La Blanquette de Limoux, and it really is a delicious sparkling wine. We then were led to believe from reading some online articles that this wine was originally produced by Dom Pérignon, prior to him producing the first champagne.

So… we decided to keep the name ‘La Blanquette’ as it is a sparkling wine that we all enjoy and as the historical fore-runner to champagne, is something that is close to our hearts (and palates!) Hence the ‘La Blanquette’ house name remained and we built our brand around it.

However, as we should all know, ‘don’t believe all you read on t’internet’ !

Caryl Panman, owner of the Rives-Blanques vineyard in Cépie, near to Limoux, helped us by providing us with the following history of La Blanquette de Limoux :

“Whether by happy accident, or divine intervention, the world’s first sparkling brut was discovered by the Benedictine monks in Limoux around 1531, in the vicinity of this vineyard. Although described as “the least known, well-made sparkling wine in France” by Robert Parker, it enjoyed great popularity in the 19th century, and was a favourite of Thomas Jefferson and the Czars of Russia alike. Today it features as a central figure in the much-loved films and novels of the popular French writer Nicole de Buron.

It is said (but unconfirmed) that Dom Pérignon, being a Benedictine himself, reputedly came to Limoux in the 17th century to work with his brothers at the Saint Hilaire monastery, and there learned how to put the bubbles in his wine.  He went up to Champagne with the secret and … the rest is history.

Blanquette is one of the first appellations in France, and the oldest in Languedoc-Roussillon.It has the lowest permitted maximum yield of any sparkling wine in France. Mauzac is an indigenous grape with an acidity ideal for sparkling wines. (“Blanquette” is the Occitan word for the fine white down which forms on the underside of the mauzac leaves, and is the traditional name for the mauzac grape.)”

Caryl also provided an image snapshot of “an early 16th century manuscript housed in the archives of Carcassonne, which shows that Blanquette was twice the price of a non-sparkling wine at that time. This is the earliest written reference to any sparkling wine in the world.”

Blanquette de Limoux

Limoux Manuscript

Many thanks to Caryl at Rives-Blanques for this fascinating insight into the early development of sparkling wine and Champagne. Although it’s not exactly the history we initially thought, it is still a very apt one for the team here and we continue to love ‘La Blanquette’ – both the bottled variety and our own!

For more information about Rives-Blanques and all the delicious wines they produce in the Limoux region, visit their website at www.rives-blanques.com