I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but the New Year is practically here. New Year’s Eve is a time to reflect on both the good and the bad…the memorable milestones and the defeats that made us stronger. We toast to “new beginnings” and make promises to ourselves and loved ones to be better versions of the people we were the year before. Almost as important as the sentiments above, is the wine you open to celebrate with the ones that mean the most. This New Year I’ll be toasting with bubbly from Southwest France, and I’m excited to share why.
Every year I peruse the Champagne aisle looking for a bubbly that won’t break the bank. I don’t know about you, but my friends and I aren’t JUST going to be drinking “a bottle or two” come NYE. It’s important I find something everyone’s palate can agree with at a price that allows me to buy multiple bottles. Not only that, but it can’t just be ANY wine…it has to be one worthy and unique enough to start the New Year off on the right foot. That’s why I love the idea of a sparkling from Southwest France.
To really understand the bubbly from Southwest France, it’s always great to start in the Gaillac AOC. Located in the heart of the Midi-Pyrénées region and straddling the Tarn River, this appellation receives heat from the Mediterranean as well as humidity from Bordeaux. It is said that grapes have been harvested for wine here since the first century A.D.
What’s also special about this diverse appellation, is the grape varieties gown here as they are native to the land. Since we are talking about sparkling, we need to put the spotlight on the Mauzac variety.
The Mauzac name is derived from the town of Moissac in Tarn-et-Garonne and is found in the Limoux and Gaillac appellations. Because this variety tends to ripen late, the heat and humidity of the climate is perfect to help the grape mature. Despite being a “late bloomer,” you will still find a beautiful and balanced acidity that keeps the wine from becoming cloying. Traditionally you will find notes of apple, candied lemon, and pear with slight jasmine undertones. One of the most fascinating aspects of Mauzac is that it is the ONLY grape used to make Méthode Ancestrale sparkling wine in the Gaillac appellation.
Not familiar with Méthode Ancestrale sparkling wine? Don’t worry I wasn’t at first either! This is the OLDEST method to produce a sparkling wine (even before traditional methods used in Champagne). To keep it simple, cold temperatures are used to pause the fermentation process mid-way through for a set amount of time (usually a few months). The wines are then bottled and a second fermentation occurs ending when the yeast cells consume all the residual sugar leftover from the first fermentation. This process forms bubbles naturally due to the C02 released within the bottle. No dosage or sugar is added.
One bottle I’m particularly excited to celebrate with is this Mauzac from Domaine Du Moulin. Since the early 1800s, the Hirissou family has been making premium winesspecializing in Mauzac and Braucol. The grapes used in this bottle were hand-harvested and pressed full cluster. This bubbly is the perfect bottle to awaken your guest’s palate, and would pair beautifully with your traditional New Year’s shrimp cocktail, mild cheeses, lemon chicken,and flakey fish.
I’m now excited to share the “additional bonus” of celebrating your Holiday with a sparkling from Southwest France…a bottle like this can be found between $15-$20! With a price range like that, I’m able to stock up on enough bottles so that everyone can bring in the New Year with something special. I always like to make connections with the wine I drink, and feel the history and stories behind these wines will be the perfect match to propel us into a New Year of positivity and prosperity!
This post was written in partnership with Wines of Southwest France.