More than 500 years ago, a soldier by the name of Nicolas de Sarret travelled to the South of France in service to the King of Aragon. There he discovered a beautiful piece of land – a very special vineyard that today they call Domaine de Montmarin, the winery behind the lovely Brut in April’s Bubble Box.
In the South of France, not too far from the border with Spain, is a region called Languedoc. This part of the world has been producing stunning white wines for centuries. Even the Romans, who occupied these lands nearly 2,000 years ago, were eager to get their hands on this alcoholic export: Languedoc white wines have been found buried in ancient Roman cities, proudly stamped with their region of origin.
It was to this arid land that Nicolas de Sarret travelled in service to the King of Aragon. The Spanish king was occupying Languedoc at the time, but the foreign soldier in his employ came to look upon this land as his home. In 1488, he purchased an estate in the foothills of Montblanc. 29 generations later, his descendants still control the estate, producing delicious red, white and sparkling wines under the name Domaine de Montmarin.
A Living Inheritance
When Nicolas de Sarret first purchased the land that now houses Domaine de Montmarin, he was declaring ownership of 400 hectares with a very mixed purpose. On his land were olive groves, grapevines, cereal production and even river-grazing livestock like goats, sheep and horses. The original deeds, written on sheepskin and signed by Nicolas himself, are still in good condition.
Up until the 19th century, the land remained devoted to these mixed purposes, and any winemaking that went on was focused on quantity over quality. But in 1987, Count Phillipe de Bertier, a direct descendant of Nicolas de Sarret, inherited the estate from his mother, Paule de Sarret, herself a 28th generation descendant.
As soon as he took control, Phillipe decided to modernise the vineyard and winery. While the gorgeous olive groves, almond trees and oak forests remain, Phillipe dedicated 80 hectares to his grape vines and shifted the winery’s focus from bulk production to by-the-bottle production.
It was a gamble that paid off. These days, Domaine de Montmarin is one of the most respected producers of wine in Languedoc, releasing a number of red, white, rosé and sparkling wines.
In this arid land, where the soil a wonderful mix of chalk and clay and the south-facing hills face the sun all day long, the terroir is varied and complex. Across the tens of hectares, the Domaine de Montmarin viticulturalists plant Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Viognier, Roussanne, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Syrah and Grenache grapes; a staggering variety for a single vineyard, and the root of the immense amount of choice the house can offer to lovers of Languedoc wines.
Fizz for the Ages
Three of these varieties come together in perfect harmony to form the Montmarin Méthode Traditionelle Brut in April’s Bubble Box. In the dry and windy weather of Languedoc, these grapes thrive and grow ever-more aromatic as they proceed towards the harvest.
The grapes in this beautiful bottle were harvested at night, to prevent the change in sugar levels that can occur when vines are picked in the heat of the sun. They were then pressed and fermented for the first time.
Its first fermentation done and dusted, the wine was bottled in January of 2015. Joining the still wine in the bottle was an extra dose of yeast and a little bit of sugar; these components stayed together for 21 months while the yeast and sugar reacted to form the beautiful bubbles that make this wine such a fabulous fizz. This process, known as the ‘traditional method’, is the same way that Champagne is made and results in the delightfully toasty notes you’ll taste in this wine.
Some of the incredible aromatics will come from the inclusion of the Viognier grape variety in this wine. Like Chardonnay, Viognier (pronounced Vee-own-yay) tends to produce full-bodied white wines, but with more floral and perfumed aromas. A beautiful addition to a gorgeous wine, this wonderful variety adds a truly special something to the wine in April’s Bubble Box.
As you sip a glass of Montmarin Brut, consider the influence of this unique and aromatic grape – and the bravery of the Spanish solider whose passion for a home away from home brought this glorious wine to the world.