Celebrate with Cremant

Domaine Collin Cremant de Limoux, a bubbly that won’t break the bank

So, I’m alive and well and the family ditto and I’m grateful for that, but, tbh, it’s been a while since I felt, you know, actually stoked. Like I think the last time I felt that little electric stab in the ribs that I interpret as “heart leaping for joy,” was round about July when the Instacart shopper guy texted “good TP in stock.”*

So, the other day when I finished a big project, a week ahead of deadline, too, I decided to administer a bit of course correction. No, I didn’t feel like breaking out the Champagne, didn’t even feel particularly joyous, but gosh darn it, it was a milestone and It Would Be Marked.

So I reached for a bottle of something that is just the ticket when you want to celebrate without making a huge song and dance about it, Cremant de Limoux. 

Cremant refers to French sparkling wine that is made in the same manner as Champagne but is not from that specific (and rather expensive) region. Limoux is in Southern France, nestled next to the Pyrenees and is famous for a type of bubbly called Blanquette de Limoux, made by monks at St. Hilaire Abbey in the 16th century. The story in Limoux is that Dom Perignon (the Champagne guy) visited and picked up a few ideas. Probs not true? But fun.

Blanquette de Limoux is made primarily from the local Mauzac grape and has a distinctive, apple cider-y tang. But in the ‘90s, producers started making the more modern Cremant, which includes international varieties such as Chardonnay. It’s a lovely, crisp and dry expression of sparkling wine and it’s a bargain to boot. Here’s a story I wrote about the region. 

I discovered my most recent Limoux gem at my local wine shop here in Berkeley—Domaine Collin, founded by Philippe Collin in the 1980s, The Domaine Collin cuvée tradition is $15 and it is classic, balanced and smooth. It’s made from Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc with a bit of Pinot Noir thrown in and it tastes light and fresh with notes of green (but not sour) apple and tangy, juicy lemon.

Just the thing for celebrating a job well done—or at least done—without feeling self-conscious about it.

*Reader, we did, indeed buy that TP and after the absolutely dire 2-ply nightmare we’d resorted to in the Great Panic it was pure heaven. A positive Taittinger of toilet tissue. 

Review: Francois Premier Hotel, Cognac


If you are visiting Cognac, a good place to stay is the Francois Premier Hotel. It’s convenient to everything, you can stroll to the grand Cognac houses like Courvoisier and Hennessey, and it’s a pleasant place to hang out as well, rooms were renovated in 2012 and there’s an indoor pool and steam room.

The hotel is set in a 19th-century building, which makes it an elegant place to come home to. And the renovations mean you get the best of both worlds with up-to-date bathrooms and luxurious mattresses. There are 21 rooms and four suites, private parking and a small bar where you can stop for a drink, ask to try some of the new cognac cocktails. All rooms feature high-quality linens. Go here for the full run down on room types. Rack rates start at around $400, but there are weekend specials for quite a bit less and deals on the various booking sites are around $300. Staff are pleasant and accommodating.

Cognac, of course, is the region in France that producers the fine brandies that go by that name. (And can we pause for a moment to consider how cool the wine region thing is? Wouldn’t it be a boost to tourism if Kentucky, for instance, was renamed the State of Bourbon?)

In addition to visiting the Cognac houses, you can stroll around town, stopping and eating every few blocks as one does. If you brought a car you can explore the Atlantic coast. Ile de Re is a good spot to visit, you leave your car at the outskirts and can rent a bike here and pedal your way up and down the coast. Here‘s a helpful post on bike rental shops.

Closer to home, the Charente River in Cognac is a lovely spot where you can stroll along the riverpath or book a boat trip.