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A Traditional French Sparkling

Posted by Monica Yu on

Fresh, light and slightly sweet, Clairette de Die is an excellent alternative sparkling for your meal. 

Clairette de Die, a sparkling wine older than Champagne is one of the oldest sparkling wine in France.  According to local legend, the process of making Clairette de Die was accidentally discovered by a Gallic shepherd. The shepherd was chilling a bottle of local wine in the cool waters of La Drôme river and forgot about it. Upon discovering it in the Spring, the wine was found to be carbonated. Gallic tribes would then leave jars of wine in the river over the winter and then recover them in the spring. In fact, in 77 AD, Pliny the Elder described this method in his writings. He distinctly wrote about the bubbly wines made by the Voconces that lived in the mountainous regions of Southern Gaul, east of the Rhône Valley.

This method of making sparkling wine is later refined and formally classified as the Ancestral Method. In order to use the Clairette de Die Tradition on the label, the wine must be made with a minimum of 75% Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains and 25% Clairette, hand harvested and under the Ancestral Method. The still wines are start the fermentation process in stainless steel tanks and then transferred to bottles without the addition of sugar or yeast before it finishes fermentation. Once bottled, a secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle. Since the fermentation process doesn't finish in the first stage, natural sugar is preserved and as a result, a lower alcohol percentage. This process is quite time consuming and usually lasts between 6 to 12 months.

Die (pronounced Dee) is a commune in the Drôme region in the southeastern France, about two hours by car from Lyon. Surrounded by mountains and rivers, this area's natural beauty has been well preserved. Many of the vineyards here are farmed organically and animals can be seen roaming freely across the lands. The town itself has several Gallo-Roman remains as well as a 12th century Notre-Dame Cathedral. 

Vineyards here are planted over rolling hills all over the valley mostly to the Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains and Clairette grape. At about 1800 ft in elevation these are some of the highest elevation vineyards in France. The chalky argillaceous soil is able to retain enough rainwater to maintain a constant supply to the vines during the long dry summers. 

Our Clairette de Die comes from Jaillance, one of the most well known producers of sparkling wine. Founded in 1950 by a group of local growers and producers. Jaillance Clairette de Die Cuvee Imperiale is made from 100% hand-picked grapes and estate bottled. This specific wine is made from a selection of only the top cuvees specially selected by the winemaker.

While the wine is fruity, it is very crisp with fine bubbles and notes of lychee, white tea and citrus zest. At 7% alcohol, this is the perfect aperitif to start off your meals or to pair it with foie gras, oysters, scallops, fruit salads and dessert. Around Christmas and Easter, the local pairing is to drink Clairette de Die with three different types of desserts. The "croquette", which is a small biscuit with almonds, while the "suisse de Valence" is another biscuit shaped like little Saint-Nicolas figure from Alsace containing preserved orange peel. Thirdly, a brioche flavored with orange blossom and lemon. 

 


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