Jean-Louis Denois

France, Languedoc-Roussillon

The South of France is not the most obvious place to look for good sparkling wine, but the vineyards of Limoux have been making fizz since long before the Champenois. Jean-Louis Denois, originally from Champagne, spotted the potential of the Limoux terroir and moved to the region. He was not, however, a fan of Mauzac 鈥 the grape variety behind the region's speciality, Blanquette de Limoux 鈥 and ripped out the vines, replacing them with the more familiar Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Despite being such a long way south, the clay and limestone vineyards are at altitude (200 to 400 metres) helping to retain the freshness required for sparkling wine production. A busy character, Jean-Louis studied in Beaune and worked in wineries in California, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa before finding his calling in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

Jean-Louis Denios, Champenois of origin, has been making excellent sparkling wines from high vineyards around Limoux for many years, and his Brut Tradition (Chardonnay-Pinot Noir) is very much an L&S staple. His new cuv茅e from Syrah grapes is a wine with a point of difference and shows J-L's experimental streak. Experimentation is fun! L&S

Denois is a maverick but a conscientious winemaker. Jancis Robinson OBE MW -