Barge Connection Blog

Behind the Bubbly in Limoux France

b2ap3_thumbnail_SparklingWineLimoux.jpgLimoux is located on the Aude River in south-central France, just south of the walled city of Carcassonne, Limoux is a pretty little town with a mixture of ancient, Medieval and modern architecture. Home to around 10,000 residents, Limoux is best known for the wines produced in the area as well as the winter carnival.

A little about wine and Limoux

Limoux residents (and many wine historians) maintain that the region surrounding the city was the first to produce sparkling wine, well before Dom Perignon discovered the process in the Champagne region. One version of the story even has Fr. Perignon stealing the secret of the process during a visit to the region, but that is considered less likely by most historians. The primary grape grown in the Limoux wine region is Mauzac, a late-ripening white wine grape with a slight apple flavor that pretty much only thrives in this one small section of France. Mauzac is the primary (and required) ingredient in the area's sparkling wine, "Blanquette de Limoux." To make this wine, winemakers blend the juice of the Mauzac grape with that of Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay grapes. However, Mauzac grapes must, by law, constitute at least 90 percent of the wine's volume. In addition to the sparkling Blanquette de Limoux, the Limoux AOC (the government-designed growing region) crafts a number of still, white wines using the Mauzac grape as well as some notable Merlot wines.

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Van Gogh in Provence

b2ap3_thumbnail_Van-Gogh-Cafe-in-Arles.jpgVincent Van Gogh, whose works command multi-million-dollar prices more than 100 years after his death, found creative inspiration in the vibrant colors and friendly atmosphere of Provence. He created more than 300 of his paintings there, including many of his most famous canvases. Visitors can still see the towns where he spent the more than two years he lived in Provence as well as visit his final resting place. However, it's the natural beauty of this region that makes it easier to understand and appreciate Van Gogh's work. The sunflowers, poppies, wheat fields, and sunlight of this area have changed little since Van Gogh's time. 


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Symbols of Provence

On a recent trip to Provence, in the south of France, I started noticing bees etched and embossed on everyday items like drinking glasses, tablecloths, cutlery, stationery and even buildings. Once I started paying attention to them, I found them everywhere, sort of like the "hidden Mickeys" at Walt Disney World. This got me wondering about the meaning behind this bee symbol as well as other symbols commonly found throughout France.

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Bio Dynamic Wine Producing

Do you know what bio-dynamic wine farming is? I came across that term recently while I was traveling in France. I'm from California and tend to think myself rather savvy about wineries and winemaking, but I'd never heard of bio dynamic wine production. I bet you haven't either.

What is bio-dynamic wine production?
Bio-dynamic wine production takes organic farming one step further (or maybe a couple of steps.) "Food and Wine" magazine calls it the next big trend in wine-making. In addition to growing grapes without pesticides or other chemicals, bio-dynamic farming seeks to respect and follow the natural symmetry between the land and the plants. The theory is that the plants and the soil are one intertwined eco-system. This is similar to the French concept of "terroir," which maintains that wine grapes take on different tastes and qualities depending on the soil conditions and climate in which they are grown.

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Cognac Is More Than Just A Delicious Brandy

A host of food and beverage products have originated in France. There's roquefort cheese, Champagne and truffles, just to name a few. Another of these French exports is cognac, the distilled brandy that comes from the region of the same name in southwestern France.

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