Thursday, July 2, 2015



By Doc Lawrence

Since 1776, American’s have gathered to celebrate the birth of America. The soirees mirror in many ways the hospitality extended by Thomas Jefferson: family and friends feasting on food, wines surrounded by lots of good will.

Thanks to the professional expertise of the esteemed wine authority Harry Constantinescu, President & CEO of The Knights of Wine Society, I am delighted to share with those hosting a gathering this Saturday one of Jefferson’s favorite wines, a sparkling white that compares to fine Champagne at a fraction of the price.

With flavors of ripe pear, fresh ginger, almond skin and candied lemon zest, Saint-Hilaire Brut Blanquette de Limoux is a lively wine from Limoux where monks were making sparkling wine long before Champagne. Like its expensive relative, it is incredibly food-friendly. Chef Lara Lyn Carter, star of Georgia Public Television’s hit cooking show, “Thyme for Sharing,” says it is “almost perfect with barbecue or anything from the grill. There’s no guesswork with this refreshing wine.”

Robert Parker lauds Saint-Hilaire as “probably the least-known well-made sparkling wine of France.” It was a Wine Spectator 100 top values wine last year, selected from more than 18,000 wine reviews.

What is now the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire began as a primitive chapel in the 6th century
It was in the Abbey's historic cellars where in 1531 Benedictine Monks created the world’s first sparkling wine more than a century before Champagne. It’s France’s oldest sparkling wine. 
It’s said that Thomas Jefferson loved this wine and brought it to America. At the time of his death, there were 49 bottles of Saint-Hilaire in his cellar. While enjoying a glass of this wonderful wine this weekend, close your eyes. You should be able to imagine Jefferson at his writing desk composing the Declaration of Independence.

NOTE: Lara Lyn Carter’s visit to Monticello and her discussions about Jefferson’s cellar, food preferences and wines is a very rare treat for television viewers. It is highly entertaining:

Lara Lyn Carter at Monticello

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