If the New Age nutters currently camped-out on top of the Pic de Bugarach, near the vineyards of Limoux, who believe the Mayan myth that world is going to end on 21st December 2012 are correct you won’t be reading this and I might as well not have bothered writing it. If, as seems more likely, they are erroneous they can always console themselves with a cheering glass of the local fizz. Sparkling wine has been produced here for centuries and the local winemakers fiercely avow that Benedictine monks were knocking it out well before the arriviste Champenois got in on the act in the 17th Century. They’re much sketchier as to what extent they perfected the all-important process of ditching the spent yeasts by dégorgement but there is more than a kernel of truth in their claim so one can see why they are chippy about it.
Quite what view Philippe Collin, a native of the Champagne region who set up shop here outside the village of Toureilles in 1980, takes when the well-worn bar room arguments about who first put the bubbles in Bubbly start is uncertain, as we have diplomatically avoided soliciting his opinion. Perhaps predictably, Philippe eschews the local grape, Mauzac, in favour of a classic Champagne blend of 20% Chardonnay and 80% Pinot Noir. His cracking ‘Cuvée Selection’ has a lively mousse (not ‘mouse’ as my predictive text asserts), fresh, zesty bouquet and whistle-clean, dry palate. We broach it for all-manner of small celebrations and with a dash of Gabriel Boudier’s peerless Crème de Cassis it makes a very potable (minor) Kir Royale. Just the thing to see in the New Year or to take your mind off imminent Armageddon!