04 Saint-Hilaire, Blanquette de Limoux Brut
Recession: Bring it on. Because the Saint-Hilaire bubbly isn't scared. And it's not just good enough to be an alternative to pricey Champagne, it eliminates the need for at least three popular brands I can think of off the top of my head. I won't say which ones, but these are three your local liquor store will recommend if you ask for a "nice, light Champagne; we're having guests over, maybe some cheese; and mimosas the next day." And they each cost more than twice as much as this wine. Despite what you've heard about some blind monk, truth is sparkling wine started here--yes here--on a high hill in southern France surrounded by, and looking down on, ripe red grapes. Saint-Hilaire is pawn to Queen four, a measured, common, but exciting opening move that makes everything possible. Lean and yeasty, crisp with the texture of tempura, it has all the classic green elements of terroir-driven white wine--lime zest, meyer lemon flesh, raw quince, granny smith apples, wheat grass, smoky chalk, and oyster shells, with moments of tangerine coming out minutes into the finish. This wine feels like a hot shower in October, window open to the mist outside.