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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Natasha Hughes

A new AOC has been created in the heart of Languedoc. The wines of the new appellation, Limoux Rouge, will contain a minimum of 50% Merlot, with up to 30% of a blend of Malbec, Syrah and Carignan, and a further 0-20% Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc. Limoux is best known for its Mauzac-based sparkling wines and its Chardonnay, but thanks to new INAO rulings, the appellation's focus looks set to change. The main beneficiaries, at least initially, will be the Sieur d'Arques co-operative, the largest in the region, which not only produces its own red - Occursus - but also has a joint venture with Philippine de Rothschild, Baron'arques. An AOC classification is important in France in both commercial and quality terms,' confirmed Tatiana Rumeau, a spokesperson for Sieur d'Arques. In this case, it will allow Sieur d'Arques and Baron'arques access to new markets and it will reinforce our presence in the French market.' Sieur d'Arques and other Limoux producers have also been lobbying INAO since 1990 for permission to add Pinot Noir to the blend of its crmant. The thing preoccupying us was how to help consumers differentiate between blanquette (a blend of 90% Mauzac and 10% split between Chardonnay and Chenin) and crmant (60% Mauzac, the rest Chardonnay and Chenin),' explains Rumeau. But from the 2003 vintage onwards, Limoux crmant will consist of up to 90% Chardonnay and Chenin (with the Chenin between 20% and 40%), with up to 20% Pinot Noir (maximum 10%) and Mauzac.