Classy Chardonnay from the South of France

vineyards-37
vineyards-37

There are two important dates coming up.  On July 13th, the World Cup Final takes place and the following day is Bastille Day, France's annual commemoration of the storming of the Bastille, a medieval fortress and prison in Paris, which took place on July 14th 1789, marking the start of the French Revolution.  After their valiant efforts, 'Les Bleus' went out at the quarter final stage of the World Cup, so perhaps now is a good time to remember Johnny Mercer's words and "accentuate the positive."  With millions of people wanting to "spread joy up to the maximum" and toast these two events with a glass of something special, here's a recommendation of a wine to suit both these occasions and to celebrate French culture and national pride. The vineyards of the Languedoc-Roussillon, in southern France, benefit from a range of climates and soil types, enjoying mountain, coast and river terrains beneath a mix of hot Mediterranean sunshine and violent winds, rain and thunder from the Cevenol storms.  It is this harsh natural environment that shapes winemaking philosophy in the region and which can be exploited successfully by visionary winemakers, like Laurent Delaunay and Nerida Abbott.  (Further information on the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region can be found in an earlier article on these pages).

Current winemakers Laurent Delaunay & Vincent Charleux
Current winemakers Laurent Delaunay & Vincent Charleux

Seeing great potential for producing quality wine in the area, Burgundian winemaker Laurent Delaunay acquired the Abbotts winery in 2005, founded in 1996 by Australian winemaker Nerida Abbott in the village of Marseillete, near Carcassonne.  As a result of a shared determination to exploit the diversity of the region's terroirs in order to produce top quality wine, boutique winery Abbotts & Delaunay was born, producing characterful wines that express both complexity and delicacy, depth of flavour and freshness, balance, uniqueness and passion, associated with the region's identity.

zephyr-limoux-2010-1
zephyr-limoux-2010-1

Abbotts & Delaunay's 'Nuages & Vents' or 'Clouds & Winds' range contains the top wines in their collection, made from grapes selected from ancient vines grown at high altitude in difficult weather conditions.  The wines, which are produced in small quantities, are characterised by great concentration and complexity of flavour.  One of these is the Zéphyr Chardonnay AOC Limoux, made from grapes grown in three vineyard areas, each of which impart different characteristics of terroir to the wine, creating a combination of floral aromas, notes of dried and ripe fruit, minerality and good structure.  The grapes are handpicked, undergo partial malolactic fermentation to retain some vivacity and the resultant wine is aged on its lees in oak barrels, 30% of which are new, for eight months, with a small proportion undergoing regular bâtonnage (stirring) over a two month period.  Laurent Delaunay regards this multi award-winning wine as one of their finest, citing the special climate and soil of Limoux as key for producing full-bodied, mineral and well-balanced Chardonnays of the highest quality.

The 2012 vintage (13% ABV) is fresh, aromatic and clean with well-balanced minerality, citrus fruit, subtle oak notes, a touch of spice and a long finish.  This wine would go particularly well with white meat, salmon, tuna, mushrooms in a cream sauce and goat's cheese.  Modern, classy-looking packaging completes the distinctive, quality-driven style of this wine.

Averys is the exclusive UK stockist of this wine.

Images courtesy  of Abbotts & Delaunay.