Crémant is another of those amazing things that I didn’t know anything about until I started learning a bit about wine.
What a great thing to discover, fun sparkling wine that won’t break the bank.
It is the term used for sparkling wines made using the traditional method in France. That means it is made in the same way as Champagne with a minimum time on the lees but it’s much cheaper – I think of it as an everyday alternative to Champagne.
Lots of different regions of France have them, the name on the label tells you where. For example, Crémant de Loire, Crémant de Limoux, Cremant de Bourgogne and Crémant d’Alsace.
Each region will tend to use the grapes that work best in their region. This may or may not include some of the traditional Champagne grapes like Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.
For example, Crémant de Loire can be made with a blend of grapes which will include the Loire varieties of Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc as well as Chardonnay.
How2 Top Tip!
look out for Blanquette de Limoux
This is the Real Thing. Champagne stole the idea from these guys. One to look out for.
Like champagnes they will have a sweetness rating. Personally I always go for at least Brut as I prefer my fizz dry. But this isn’t always fool-proof. I have had Crémant that tasted a bit sweet for my tastes even though it was Brut. I think there could be two reasons for this.
The first is that Brut is defined as a range of sweetness (0 to 12 grams per litre) not one figure. You can find yourself with one that is at the upper end of the scale without being able to tell from the label. Other European Union sweetness labelling terms to look out if you want dry fizz is “Brut Nature” which is defined as 0 to 3 grams per litre.
The second reason for different perceptions of sweetness in a Brut Crémant can come from the grapes used. Some of the flavours of the particular grape variety used can seem sweeter than others.
One of the biggest benefits of Crémant is the price. The price is significantly cheaper than champagne. Crémant wasn’t something I ever really saw in Britain, I hadn’t noticed it.
It was when I went to a supermarket in France to buy a bottle of Champagne to take home at the end of a holiday that I spotted a whole set of shelves of Crémant near the Champagne.
I had just learnt about the different methods of producing sparkling wines and so I knew what Crémant meant and knew it could be worth trying. My stepson was with me and we saw that we could have three or four bottles of Crémant for just one of Champagne.
We just picked a selection of bottles of Crémant, almost at random, covering different regions making sure all were Brut. Once we were home my stepson would send me texts each time he and his friends had a bottle with their assessment of the wine. And they were a big hit. There was only one of the bottles they didn’t really like.
He has become such a fan of Crémant that every time I go over to France he puts in an order. He gives me a limit on how much he wants to spend and says just bring me as many bottles as you can get for that.
There is a risk with my somewhat haphazard approach of picking bottles particularly since I don’t know enough yet about the makers and brands to be sure we are getting something we will like.
But it is great fun, mistakes don’t cost very much and it means we are trying new wines all the time.