Pale fruity AOC Clairette de Die is the only sparkling wine made from Muscat grapes, along with no more than 30% Clairette grapes. It is best drunk fresh, within two years of bottling.
Die was the ancient Dea Augusta Vocontiorum, an important city in Roman times. The local Vococone Gauls made wines praised by Pliny the Elder, and were known for keeping clay jars of wine to chill in their local rivers.
This custom may be the origin of Clairette’s unique méthode dioise, which means the wine ferments and becomes naturally sparkling in the bottle. The first fermentation in vats is regulated by the cold (0°C) and stopped before the sugar in the grapes is completely transformed into alcohol.
The second fermentation in the bottle is carried out from the residual sugar of the grapes, without the addition of yeasts or sugar (unlike the ‘traditional’ Champagne method).
The Die vineyards also produce other AOC wines: a dry crémant from 100% Clairette, a still white Coteaux de Die, and white, rose and red Châtillon-en-Diois produced only around the eponymous village.
Images by GRANON-PONTAIX DELICE, Véronique PAGNIER