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ST. HILAIRE 2006 BRUT (BLANQUETTE DI LIMOUX), FRANCE

COST: $15

WHAT: This is an incredibly drinkable sparkling wine at this price. It has a beautiful golden color in the glass, with plenty of tiny bubbles. I usually don't get much nose from a sparkling wine, but this has hints of green apples and flowers. The flavors are strong green apples, pears and lemon, with a creamy mouth feel. There is just a hint of sweetness, not enough to make this a sweet wine but enough to attract people who think they don't like dry, sparkling wines.

Limoux can contain three grape varieties: Mauzac which must make up a minimum of 90 percent of the wine, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. Mauzac, is celebrated for its finesse and delicate bouquet.

THE WINERY: This is called France's oldest sparkling wine, made more than 100 years before sparkling wine was made in Champagne. The Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire made this wine in the foothills of Limoux, southwest of Carcassonne in southern France.

Though it might not match the elegance of Champagne, this toasty, yeasty wine is one of the best sparkling wines around for under $20.

GOES WITH: Like most sparkling wines, this goes with just about any dish, but the St. HiIaire goes best with hors d'oeuvres and light meals. We had it before dinner and with ham, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes and creamed corn in an early Christmas dinner with extended family. Everyone loved it.

REACH DENNIS SODOMKA AT DENNIS@BOTTLEREPORT.COM. READ HIS COLUMN ON CHOOSING WINES FOR THE HOLIDAYS IN THE NOVEMBER-DECEMBER ISSUE OF AUGUSTA MAGAZINE.

WINE EVENTS

Jan. 2

After New Year's Tasting at the Vineyard Wine Market, 1-6 p.m.

JAN. 8

First Friday tasting at Wine World; selection of six wines and several cheeses; $4, with rebate on the purchase of one bottle of the feature wines

JAN. 15

Wines of the Southern Rhone, a Tasters Guild event featuring Sally and Dick Benjamin, 7:30 p.m., North Augusta Community Center, 101 Brookside Drive; $32 for members, $38 for nonmembers; (803) 279-9522

JAN. 21

Wine tasting at Malibu Jack's Surf Grill, 231 Fury's Ferry Road, 6-8 p.m.; wines and food samples and entertainment; $15; Ninth Street Wine Market event

In-shop wine tasting, Wine World, 5-8 p.m., six wines, several cheeses; fee, with rebate with purchase of one of the featured wines

JAN. 29

Tasting seminar of Elyse Wines of California, featuring Michelle Duckett, at Wine World; 7 p.m., reservations recommended

St. Hilaire 2006 Brut (Blanquette di Limoux), France

Cost: $15

What: This is an incredibly drinkable sparkling wine at this price. It has a beautiful golden color in the glass, with plenty of tiny bubbles. I usually don't get much nose from a sparkling wine, but this has hints of green apples and flowers. The flavors are strong green apples, pears and lemon, with a creamy mouthfeel. There is just a hint of sweetness, not enough to make this a sweet wine, but enough to attract people who think they don't like dry sparkling wines.

Limoux can contain three grape varieties: Mauzac which must make up a minimum of 90 percent of the wine, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. Mauzac, is celebrated for its finesse and delicate bouquet.

The Winery: This is called France's oldest sparkling wine, made more than 100 years before sparkling wine was made in Champagne. The Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire made this wine in the foothills of Limoux, southwest of Carcassonne in southern France.

Though it may not match the elegance of Champagne, this toasty, yeasty wine is one of the best sparkling wines under $20 around.

Goes With: Like most sparkling wines this goes with just about any dish, but the St. HiIaire goes best with hors d'oeuvres and light meals. We had it before dinner as well as with ham, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole and mashed potatoes and creamed corn in an early Christmas dinner with extended family. Everyone loved it .

Reach Dennis Sodomka at dennis@bottlereport.com. Read his column on choosing wines for the holidays in the November-December issue of Augusta Magazine.

WINE EVENTS

Jan. 2

After New Year's Tasting at the Vineyard Wine Market, 1-6 p.m.

Jan. 8

First Friday tasting at Wine World; selection of six wines and several cheeses; $4, with rebate on the purchase of one bottle of the feature wines

Jan. 15

Wines of the Southern Rhone, a Tasters Guild event featuring Sally and Dick Benjamin, 7:30 p.m., North Augusta Community Center, 101 Brookside Drive ; $32 for members, $38 for non members; (803) 279-9522

Jan. 21

Wine tasting at Malibu Jack's Surf Grill, 231 Fury's Ferry Road, 6-8 p.m.; wines and food samples and entertainment; $15; Ninth Street Wine Market event

In-shop wine tasting, Wine World, 5-8 p.m., six wines, several cheeses; fee, with rebate with purchase of one of the featured wines

Jan. 29

Tasting seminar of Elyse Wines of California, featuring Michelle Duckett, at Wine World; 7 p.m., reservations recommended

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