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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Clairette de Die AOP; A Sparkling Wine far Older than Champagne.

Behind the French Menu.
Bryan G. Newman
Last updated September 2017.
Clairette de Die AOP.
Clairette de Die AOP   The oldest sparkling wine in France.
Clairette de Die AOP is far older than Champagne.  It is a lightly-sparkling wine produced in the southern department of Drôme in the region of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes in the Rhone Valley. The local's claims of its 2,000-year-old pedigree may be slightly exaggerated. Nevertheless, this pétillant, a lightly sparkling wine, may have been produced here for over 1,000 years. Originally, this wine had, unlike Champagne, had only a single fermentation, however, in 1925 the Champagne style bottle was added, and so was a second fermentation.  
N.B. Competing with Clairette de Die for the title of the oldest sparkling wine is the Blanquette de Limoux. That wine comes from the old region of Languedoc in the new super-region of Occitanie. The story will require a separate post.

A Clairette de Die Cuvée Impériale.
Photograph courtesy of jamesonf.
Clairette de Die AOP is a light and fruity wine best drunk when it is very young, mostly under two-years of age, and served very cold.  While the traditional Clairette de Die AOP is a demi-sec. In sparkling wines that is slighty sweet.  Brut, drier versions and doux, very very sweet versions are now available, and both are inexpensive.  In a wine shop in Saint Etienne, a town where an uncle of mine used to live, I saw these wines on sale with prices below ten Euros per 750cl bottle.  I also saw organic versions of the same wine for similar prices.  In local, unassuming, but good restaurants you can expect to pay up to eighteen or twenty Euros for a bottle.

 You will not find the Clairette de Die AOP in the airport duty-free so stock up when you can.

Aging Clairette de Die.
Photograph courtesy oh

In honor of this wine's age and unique method of production, it is legally labeled as using the 'Méthode Dioise Ancestrale', the diose ancestral, method. The original production method is different from that used in other sparkling wines, including Champagnes and Cremants. The Clairette de Die AOP is unique, not only as a sparkling wine, with its claimed 1,000 or 2,000 years of history; it is part of France's wine heritage.
À Votre Santé.

Crémant de Limoux sparkling wines with white and rosé versions are now available. Cremants are sparkling wines made outside the Champagne area and very good value. The Crémant de Limoux has 12.5% alcohol. It is offered in extra-brut, very dry; brut, dry; sec, slightly sweet; and demi-sec, sweet versions. Look at the end of the posts on Cremants or Champagnes for more information on the degree of sweetness on sparkling wine labels; they are very different to those for still wines.
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Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
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