Antech, Limoux, France

Antech is an independent, family-owned winery that specialises in making sparkling wines in three Appellations: Crémant de Limoux, Blanquette de Limoux and Blanquette Méthode Ancestrale. 

Crémants de Limoux are chardonnay-dominated, blended with chenin.  Blanquettes de Limoux, which is claimed to be the oldest sparkling wine in the world, is made primarily (at least 90%) from the traditional Limoux variety, Mauzac, which is also known locally as “Blanquette” because of a fine white duvet that appears on its leaves in spring, and which has given its name to the appellation.

The Appellation Blanquette Méthode Ancestrale (of which unfortunately non were on show today) is more unusual: it is 100% mauzac, unblended and does not go through the ageing process of the Blanquette and Crémant de Limoux.  It is naturally low in alcohol (up to 7% abv) and relies on the sugar content of late harvested mauzac to restart the fermentation in bottle.  (The first fermentation in vat is stopped by chilling and filtration.)

Muriel Claudel, export manager for Antech, took me through a selection of their wines.


NV Cuvée Elegance, Blanquette de Limoux, Antech
90% mauzac, 5% chenin blanc and 5% chardonnay.  A nice creamy, biscuity nose.  Good creaminess and character on the palate.  Very Good.  88/100

2003 Grande Reserve, Blanquette de Limoux, Antech
Again 90% mauzac, 5% chenin blanc and 5% chardonnay.  This has a more structured, more elegant nose.  On the palate, there’s more power and depth than the Cuvée Elegance, with better structure.  There’s some very find cassis fruit on the finish.  Very Good Indeed.  92/100

NV Cuvée Saint Laurent, Crémant de Limoux, Antech
This is a blend of 50% chardonnay, 40% chenin blanc and 10% mauzac.  It has a big buttery nose, and is fairly full on the palate with nice balance and depth.  But it lacks a bit of the character of the Blanquettes.  Very Good.  87/100

NV Cuvée Expression, Crémant de Limoux, Antech
70% chardonnay, 20% chenin blanc and 10% mauzac.  Very slight nose, but this has much greater elegance on the palate than the Saint Laurent.  It has a very fine structure.  Impressive, though it again lacks the character of the blanquettes.  Very Good Indeed.  90/100

2000 Cuvée Exception, Blanquette de Limoux, Antech
90% mauzac again, blended with 5% chardonnay and 5% chenin, this time aged in oak.  Quite a rich nose with some black fruit and toast.  Very elegant palate: rich, with great depth.  It feels a bit like a baby Krug.  Good depth and concentration with blackberry fruit on the finish.  Very Good Indeed/Excellent.  94/100

2005 Chardonnay, Vin de Pays d’Oc, Antech, 12.5%
This has a decent light chardonnay nose.  Fairly round and open on the palate.  This is a good basic chardonnay.  Good.  84/100



Champagne Legras & Haas

NV Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Chouilly, Champagne Legras & Haas
A very delicate nose.  Light and exceptionally pure on the palate.  Very clean and fresh with nice interest.  Very Good.  88/100

1999 Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru, Champagne Legras & Haas
A very interesting nose with some nice cassis fruit.  Fairly full on the palate.  Not especially elegant, but it has good fruit and makes good easy drinking.  Very Good.  87/100

NV Tradition Brut, Champagne Legras & Haas
50% chardonnay blended with pinot meunier and pinot noir.  This has a nice fresh, herby, spicy nose.  Very full and roundly flavoured and very even throughout.  This makes an interesting and easy wine, but tasted blind, it could easily be mistaken for a crémant.  Very Good.  86/100



Ariston Fils

The Ariston Fils estate, which dates back to 1794, has ten hectares of vineyards, predominantly planted with 35 year old vines.  Their Aspasie range is made from older vines and revives an old family name, Champagne Aspasie.  Caroline Ariston took me through their wines.

NV Brut Carte Blanche, Champagne Ariston Fils
Fullish fruity nose.  Very easy on the palate: fairly simple.  Very pleasant and simple.  Good+  84/100

NV Brut Rosé, Champagne Ariston Fils
This is made with a mixture of saignée and blending.  The Brouillet Rouge made by the saignée method comes from old vine pinot noir (the vines are around 35 years old) from Brouillet: this accounts for 15% of the final blend, together with 45% pinot noir and 40% pinot meunier.  The final result is a champagne with a very pale salmon pink.  There are light, fresh red fruits on the nose.  Very clean, though maybe lacking body and interest.  Very Good.  86/100

1998 Vintage, Champagne Ariston Fils
The 1998 vintage is an equal blend of pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay.  There’s a touch of whiffy gas on the nose, but they claim to use very little sulphur indeed.  Very strange on the palate, with sour red fruits.  Not entirely pleasant.  72/100

NV Blanc de Blancs Brut, Champagne Aspasie
From 30 year old vines.  An elegant, slightly rusty nose.  Good character and depth. Clean and moreish.  Very Good Indeed.  91/100

NV Brut Prestige, Champagne Aspasie
Non-vintage, but all the fruit (chardonnay) in this came from the 1999 vintage.  It has a very delicate nose.  Very nice palate with good fruit and very good balance.  Impressive.  Very Good Indeed.  91/100

NV Brut de Fût, Champagne Aspasie
Again non-vintage, but deriving in this case from the 1998 harvest, this is a blend of 50% chardonnay, 25% pinot noir and 25% pinot meunier.  It is made in old barrels, undergoing both alcoholic and malolactic fermentations in barrels.  It’s very rich and creamy on the nose.  Rather and full and round on the palate, it develops a nice spiciness on the finish, with some black fruit flavours.  Good complexity.  Very Good Indeed.  92/100


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Last updated: 17 July 2007