Jean-Louis Denois: Excellent Bubbles, Excellent Price

Our Direct Import program is really the backbone of K&L. It’s one of the most significant ways that we are able to bring you wines that we believe in at such great value. Our buyers build relationships with producers all over the wine-growing, wine-loving world. Most of these are small producers whom we only find out about because we have feet on the ground. Our buyers travel and make relationships that connect them to that friend of a friend of a friend who turns out to be making astonishing wine.

We’ve been working with Jean-Louis Denois for about 15 years, and there’s one easy reason—his wines are fantastic. He found his way to Languedoc’s Limoux region from Champagne, after adventuring all over to learn the winemaking craft. He studied in Burgundy then South Africa, but was drawn to Limoux for its sparkling wine potential. This cool region along the Aude River in the foothills of the Pyrenees is Languedoc’s answer to Champagne. Despite its southerly position, it has a unique microclimate that keeps temps cool (the nearby Atlantic Ocean plays a big part) and allows vineyards to grow at the highest elevations in the Languedoc, making it ideal for racy bubbles. Temps rise in the summer, but strong winds keep it moderate. Wine historians (and locals) say this may even be the home of the world’s first sparkling wine. Records have sparkling wine from here dating back to 1531 at the Abbey of St-Hilaire.

Sparkling Limoux is often made from the Mauzac grape, but Denois chooses to focus on Pinot and Chardonnay with a touch of Pinot Meunier. He is, after all, a sixth-generation Champenois (You can take the man out of Champagne but can’t take the Champagne out of the man…right?) He is committed to farming organically and biodynamically, using techniques such as higher vine trellising to increase canopy exposure and wild ground cover. His sparklers are complex and ultra high-acid, but they won’t break the bank—perfect refreshment for this heat wave. We carry five of his wines, all coming in under $20.

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Jean-Louis Denois "Tradition" Extra Brut Reserve $17.99
Pinot and Chardonnay grown on estate vineyards then aged on the lees for three years. This is marked by a sense of precision, with fine bubbles. A touch smoky, but also floral and appley. It has a luscious palate.

Jean-Louis Denois Pinot Noir Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine $15.99
100% Pinot Noir grown at St-Pierre and Borde-Longue vineyards in the town of Roquetaillade. It’s very pretty and aromatic, redolent of strawberry and white flower. High acid and robust mousse.

Jean-Louis Denois Syrah "Rose d'Une Unit" Brut Rosé $14.99
All Syrah grown in Fenouilledes. Ripe strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, pepper, savory and a bit herbal on finish.

Jean-Louis Denois "Bulles d'Argile" Extra Brut (Sans Soufre) 19.99
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grown in Roquetaillade and Magrie on calcareous clay soil. Denois keeps the yield small and uses no sulfites. This is round and complex with ripe pear fruits, almonds, and pepper, a touch of toastiness.

Jean-Louis Denois "Eclipse" Extra Brut $19.99
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Meunier. Extra brut, made in very small quantities. Grown in Roquetaillade. Aged in barrels for a minimum of 10 years. Super high acid and crunchy, toasty sweet nuts aromas, ripe apples and a round palate.

- Kate Soto