What is Crémant and why is this sparkling wine underrated?

Crémant has the unique distinction of being deeply appreciated by many wine professionals, but stubbornly hidden from most consumers. Among the most delicious and deliciously versatile sparkling wines in the world, Crémant remains a mystery. (And not to be confused with Cramant, a Grand Cru town in Champagne.)

At its core, Crémant is a category of French sparkling wines produced using the same traditional method as champagne, albeit from other regions, often using grapes other than the Big Three of the world’s most famous sparkling wines (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier). The main ones you’re likely to see on the market are Crémant d’Alsace (often made from Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris, and sometimes a grape called Auxerrois, plus Pinot Noir and Riesling); Cremant de Bourgogne (Pinot Noir, Gamay); Crémant de Loire (Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and even, unexpectedly, Cabernet Franc); and Crémant de Limoux (Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and a local variety called Mauzac). Crémants are also produced in Bordeaux, the Rhône Valley (called Crémant de Die), Jura, and Savoy. There are eight AOCs in total in France for the production of Crémant.

Crémant, the unsung hero of French sparkling wine

Image Credit: Kateryna Hliznitsova/Unsplash

Due to the variety of terroirs and climates in which Crémants are produced, as well as the different grape varieties, the category represents a wide range of styles and expressions. Still, they are all united by their method of production, which involves secondary fermentation that takes place in the bottle, as opposed to a pressurized tank, as is the case with the more famous Charmat method used for Prosecco, to turn still wine into sparkling. This gives depth and complexity to the wine, as well as pastry and bakery notes from prolonged contact with the yeast, which the law stipulates must occur for a minimum of nine months before disgorging, or cleaning individual bottles of that yeast. spent.

What Crémant lacks in widespread recognition, it more than makes up for in value and ease of eating. The Dirler-Cadé Brut Nature Crémant d’Alsace 2017, for example, is brisk and salty, with oyster shells, lemon-lime and a hint of lemongrass coming together with lime leaf and serious mineral notes running through the finish. crunchy. , which makes it an excellent aperitif and great together with fried dishes and even more aromatically spiced. And it can be found for less than US$25 or THB 893!

Given the wide swath of French territory in which Crémant is produced, it offers a unique lens through which to experience wine regions that might otherwise be quite familiar. Crémant de Bordeaux, for example, is a whole new way to explore one of the most famous places on the planet. It’s a look into the terroir and the history of that storied region that more familiar styles (dry reds and whites, Sauternes ambrosial wines) don’t offer. This is the case for Crémants in all eight official appellations. And that’s the delight in them: for often very fair prices, you can not only experience a different side of French sparkling wine, but also a whole new take on key regions across the country. That is something worth celebrating with a bottle of champagne. Cremant, of course.

This story first appeared on www.foodandwine.com

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