Anything but champagne
Those of you who have been here for a bit longer have already discovered my slight obsession with sparkling wines. I do like a good champagne and would never change it for anything but the world of sparkling has so much more to offer. Local market sadly doesn’t give much room for experimentation, but that's what you get for being a sommelier in a non-wine country.
In all fairness there’s still loads to discover and loads to place on the bucket list. So this weeks topic will be French sparkling - anything but champagne.
You’d think that a well established wine country that has the most sought after Champagne region would make exceptional sparkling all over the place, but sadly that's not the case. There are positively amazing exceptions - as with anything in life - but most tend to be mediocre. Ah, that only adds to the beauty of discovering more awesomeness.
For decades French regions have made sparkling wines from grapes that weren’t quite up to task in making supreme still wines. Since they believed that cooler temperatures and bubbles will mask the low quality they decided to make sparkling. You can imagine the outcome. Still there are options to taste and some live up to the sparkling wine enthusiast expectations of a French Bubbly.
Cremant de …
Well basically every region in France makes a Method Traditionell sparkling. Meaning the wine is made the same way as is champagne. With second fermentation in the bottle, at least 9 months on the lease. Liqueur tirage and expedition added, etc. Main difference comes from the grapes used.
Cremant de Bourgogne uses Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Aligote, Gamay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Melon de Bourgogne. With Pinot Noir ad Gamay taking the center stage.
Cremant de Bourdeaux uses Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle, Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Cabernet Franc & Sauvingnon, Carmenere, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Gris for it’s white sparkling and Roses are made from Cabernet Franc & Sauvignon, Carmenere, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot.
Cremant de Loire ferments minimal 70% Chenin Blanc in their cuvee + Cabernet Franc & Sauvignon, Pineau d’Aunis, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Arbois, Grolleau Noir & Gris
Cremant d’Alsace makes white sparkling from Pinot Blanc + Pinot Gris+Chardonnay. While adding Riesling, Auxerrois and Pinot Noir. Rose sparkling tends to be 100% Pinot Noir
Cremant de Die comes from mighty Rhone region using minimal 55% Clairette + maximum of 10% Aligote + 5-10% Muscat a Petits Grains
The birthplace of sparkling offers us Cremant de Limoux, who’s whites are made with 40-70% Chardonnay + minimal 20% Chenin Blanc + maximum 10% Mauzac.
Rose cuvee consists of maximum 10% Pinot Nori. 40-70% Chardonnay + minimum 20% Chenin Blanc + maximum 10% Mauzac
Cremant de Jura offers a mixture of minimum 50% Chardonnay + max 20% Pinot Noir ja Trousseau, with added Savagnin and Poulsard for it’s whites. Roses made from Pinot Noir, Poulsard, Trousseau
Cremant de Savoie is made with Jacquere, Altesse, Chasselas and other local grapes.
Aside from Method Traditionell Cremants there’s loads more to taste, if you can find them.
For example different Mousseux or Petillant vines from Gaillac, Anjou, Montlouis-sur-Loire, Saumur, Touraine, Vouveray, St-Peray or Seysell among others.
If you wish to learn in more detail about different tastes or details let me know! Will be happy to help you out.
Happy Bubble Hunting!