Wine: Gerard Bertrand Cremant de Limoux Brut.
Grapes: chardonnay (70 percent), chenin blanc (20 percent), mauzac (10 percent)
Region: Limoux, Languedoc, southern France
In the glass: Gerard Bertrand Cremant is a fine pale-golden color with a star-bright clean, clear core of fine strands of tiny bubbles coming up from the bottom of the bowl toward the top. It has a glass-clear meniscus and medium viscosity.
On the nose: There are some nice freshly baked apple pie notes emanating from the glass with underlying notes of apple cider, citrus zest and fine chalky minerals as well as notes of freshly kneaded dough and hints of crushed apricot pits.
On the palate: This is a refreshing attack of nicely spritzy cool white fruit with apple juice, Fuji apple slices, white grape juice, baked phyllo dough pastry and minerality. The midpalate confirms that this is a well-made methode champenoise-style wine with a great and complex backbone of acidity, minerals and fruit going into a delicious and zesty finish that is laced with lemon rind and nuttiness.
Odds and ends: I tried to find an American sparkler to celebrate the Fourth of July with, but in my tastings, I just couldn’t get around this one. Gerard Bertrand is a highly specialized producer of really killer little wines, especially from the lesser appellations of southern France. This unusual Champagne usurper called cremant is from the little-known Limoux area of the Languedoc region. Limoux is where sparkling wine was first produced in 1531, and while the Champagne region has dominated people’s perception of French “bubblies,” Limoux actually has a much longer history of producing sparkling wines of great quality and at a fraction of the price of comparable Champagnes.
Since the French had a great hand in America’s independence, I thought this would be that awesome value sparkling wine that you serve at your celebration today. Make sure you chill it to 45 degrees Fahrenheit before having a toast with it. Salty snacks do well with this, too. Drink it now through New Year’s Eve.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at email@example.com.