Quality French Wines from the Abbey Road
Anne de Batarnay de Joyeuse was born in 1560 in the Château de Joyeuse. He was a court favorite of Henry III, and he committed one of the most egregious battlefield massacres against the Huguenots at the battle de Saint-Eloi. That massacre of 800 Protestants was a too zealous for the effeminate Duke of Anjou. The dandy cad, Duc de Joyeuse, was out of favor and lost his courtly status as one of Henry’s “Les Mignons.” The Protestants took their revenge on Anne de Joyeuse after he was defeated by the Huguenots during the battle of Coutras in 1587. Anne de Joyeuse was shot in the head after he threw down his sword. His last words were, “My ransom is a hundred thousand francs!” The Huguenots were in no mood for hostage-taking of the murderous minion after he butchered their brethren in Poitou.
Anne de Joyeuse is not the dastardly scoundrel I would ever name a winery after, but I am not French! There is a high quality sustainable cooperative winery in Limoux that chose this very local historical figure to honor. When I think Limoux, I always think the lovely effervescent sparkling Blanquette de Limoux. In the Occitan language, Blanquette means “white.” I love these sparkling wines which expert scholars consider the oldest sparkling wines in France. The sparkling Limoux wine was created by the Benedictine monks at the Abbey of Saint Hilaire in 1531, about one hundred and seven years prior to Dom Pérignon’s birth. That myth that old blind Dom Pérignon created bubbles is just that an urban legend of old; oft quoted by ill-informed wine salesmen.
However, the Anne de Joyeuse winery and its 650 member-growers produce some fantastic red wines and some decent oak-aged Chardonnay, as well. It was through his legendary insights on the Upper Aude that Dr. Jules Guyot realized the technique of modern viticulture. This potential was realized by the legendary wine importer in New York, Jack Poust & Company, who has imported fine Old World wines since 1945. They created a fine Bordeaux-style blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot as their AOC Limoux red wine. In addition, they have a fine Limoux AOC Chardonnay that was barrel-aged extensively as per the Appellation requirement with the inclusion of 15% of the rare Mauzac grape. This Abbey of Saint Hilaire Chardonnay is an amazing wine for the money at $14 or $15 per bottle.Continued on the next page