Just under an hour away is the town of Limoux. As you pass over the small range of mountains between Chalabre and Limoux, you begin to notice the first vineyards and signs for blanquette. The sparkling white wine has an amazing story. It is historically accurate to say it was the world's first sparkling wine, developed around 1531 in the Languedoc. What is not supported by history, but is local legend, is that Dom Perignon, the supposed inventor of champagne visited the Languedoc and took home to the Champagne region the idea of sparkling wine. Apparently he turned out to be the better promoter of his product.
Today, Champagne is known worldwide as the beverage to toast glorious events such as weddings and great victories, launching of ships and special birthdays. And ironically, Blanquette de Limoux is unknown. In an earlier day, however, the famous francophile, President and signer of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, was a passionate devotee of Blanquette. It was the only sparkling wine he kept at Monticello, and 10% of his vast cellar reserves were Blanquette de Limoux at the time of his death. When we were in Phoenix, Arizona, we tried to buy some at one of the largest liquor outlets in the state. They hadn't heard of it and didn't carry it.
But it's not unknown here in Languedoc and Midi-Pyrenees, we've been having it all the time, most recently, last evening at a wedding reception for friends. It's light, refreshing, and you can drink a lot of it. We even served it last year at our brunch of French Toast (appetizingly called "Eggy Bread" in the UK) at 10:00 in the morning.
I don't know if blanquette has made it's way to the UK, but I would bet that it has. Comments please. Can you get blanquette where you live? Have you ever heard of it?