As the holidays approach, it’s time for toasts– and what does it better than sparkling wine?
First off, a question:
When is sparkling wine from France not called Champagne?
When it comes from some place other than Champagne!
You see, in France, they predominately make two kinds of sparkling wine: Champagne and Crémant.
While it may be MADE in the same way aka méthode champenoise, only grapes that are grown in the Champagne region of France can be called Champagne. Other sparkling wines grown and made in other regions of France go by the name of Crémant (“creamy” for the texture of the bubbles). In France, there are eight Crémant appellations:
- Crémant d’Alsace
- Crémant de Bordeaux
- Crémant de Bourgogne
- Crémant de Die
- Crémant du Jura
- Crémant de Limoux
- Crémant de Loire
- Crémant de Savoie
According to Wikipedia, “In 1975, Crémant de Loire was given formal recognition as an AOC, and was followed by Crémant de Bourgogne (1975) and Crémant d’Alsace (1976). When in the late 1980s lobbying by Champagne producers led to méthode champenoise being forbidden within the European Union as a designation for the traditional method, the term Crémant was given its present definition. This meant that the use of “Crémant” in the Champagne region was discontinued and additional French Crémant AOCs were created from 1990, starting with Bordeaux and Limoux.”
And what’s more festive than bubbles? Rosé bubbles!
In anticipation of the holidays, on two occasions we recently tasted two Rosé Crémant from four areas of France:
- Alsace in the north east
- Loire in the central west
- Burgundy in the central east
- Limoux in the south east
With the Loire and Limoux, for evening one we paired the wines with brie, humous, bread; grilled oysters, shrimp bisque, and green salad with pomegranate seeds, avocado, tangerine, pistachios with a tangerine balsamic vinegarette. I purchased the shrimp for the bisque live at the fishermans’ market in the Ventura Harbor from the family who caught it; pictured is some of the boys who caught the shrimp on their family’s boat.
And since fried chicken is a thing with sparkling wine, and we’d never made it for one of our dinners, with the Alsace and Burgundy for evening two, we had a cheese platter, a pear and citrus salad, roasted carrots, mashed potatoes and country gravy, plus fried chicken. This also gave us an idea of how these wines would pair with roasted poultry and sides for Thanksgiving.
For dessert on evening two, I picked up two kinds of locally made not too sweet cookies:Santa Barbara Cookie Company’s Los Padres Porcupines from a mother daughter bakery based out of Santa Barbara full of pecans and just the right hint of dark chocolate and from Royal Bakery, Wedding Cookies which are also a shortbread with plenty of nuts and only lightly dusted with powdered sugar. Both worked well and as long as the dessert is not too sweet, you’ll be fine with these wines. Do not even consider pecan pie although apple would likely work and possibly pumpkin.
These four wines are not only affordable, especially when compared with Champagne, and they pair really well with food also making them a great choice not just for a toast but to enjoy with your holiday meals.
- De Chancey – Crémant de Loire – Brut Rosé – SRP $18
- Armand De Chambray – Crémant de Bourgogne – Rosé – SRP $18
- 2015 – Thomas Jefferson – Gerard Bertrand – Crémant De Limoux – Rosé – Sud De France $18
- Wolfberger – Crémant D’ Alsace – Rosé – SRP $25
2015 – Thomas Jefferson – Gerard Bertrand – Crémant De Limoux – Rosé – Sud De France – 12.5% alcohol $18
purchased by Sue at Bevmo
Biodynamically grown and made: Chardonnay 60% Chenin Blanc 15% Pinot Noir 15%.
Color: Pale pink,salmon, almost frothy on the top from the delicate persistent bubbles.
Nose: Butter croissant with fresh jam, toasted almond
Palate: Similar to the nose, tart fresh fruit, but this is not a fruity wine,more of the essence of raspberries and strawberries.
Pairing: Great with our homemade hummus, the pine nuts on top added a nice richness. would be fantastic with a brie and ham grilled cheese sandwich. a croquet monsuir or madame. We thought of quiche lorraine; it would be a very nice brunch wine. Great with the shrimp bisque, and you could also do clam chowder with this wine. For our salad, this wine liked the avocado and pistachio notes better than the citrus, but it did well overall with the brightness of the salad. Fantastic with the grilled oysters.
Because Sue purchased this wine, it went home with her, and I didn’t realize until I started writing and researching that the wines of Gerard Bertrand are biodynamic. As I was researching the wine, I remembered that I was invited to taste his wines in Spring 2019 in part because of my interest and knowledge in biodynamic wines. So looking forward to learning more about these wines!
Generally speaking, GB says that South of France terroirs are easier to manage in organic and biodynamic because low humidity and wind are two key factors.
GB says that “Going further than our own vineyars, we push our partners to convert to organic. My vision for our region is one of leading entity which will normalize these practices.”
De Chancey – Crémant de Loire – Brut Rosé – 12.5% alcohol $18
purchased by Gwendolyn at Whole Foods
100% Cabernet Franc
Color: Pink, very pretty in the glass, with beautiful bubbles. If you use prosecco glasses with this wine, it shows off the bubbles very nicely, and because of the tulip shape it brings out more of the nose..
Nose: Minerals, earth, wet stone; not a lot of fruit.
Palate: Nice fruit on the palate, metallic, steel, graphite. There are herbal notes that are common with the Cab Franc grape like menthol and vegetal notes.
Pairing: This wine was also nice with the hummus, making us think it’d be nice with a bean soup of bean salad. Sue liked it with the brie, but I did not. It likes cheeses: we tried mimolette, goat cheddar, brie, olive goat cheese, and it was even terrific with the blueberry coated goat cheese. The salad went so well with this wine, not as great with the bisque but not bad.
We liked both of these wines in different ways but agreed both wines would be very classy for a New Year’s Eve dinner table.
Armand De Chambray – Crémant de Bourgogne – Rosé- 12% alcohol – SRP $18
purchased by Gwendolyn at the Ventura Wine Store
Color: Pale, rose gold, golden salmon, in a prosecco glass, the bubbles come up beautifully right through the middle of the glass
Nose: Watermelon and white peach, clean
Palate: Light refreshing, nectarine, red stone fruit, more expressive on the palate, lovely light fruit, nice bubbles, light minerality,
Pairing: Lovely with the pears in the salad, it also works with the orange olive oil and tangerines, which surprised Sue. The rosemary herbs were very nice with the wine, pretty on the plate. The earthy sweetness of the roasted carrots works well with the wine; not so good with the mashed potatoes and gravy — it brought out an unpleasant bitterness in the wine. Excellent with the fried chicken.
Wolfberger – Crémant D’ Alsace – Rosé 12.5% alcohol – SRP $25
sample sent for my review consideration
Color: Salmon, the bubbles are very pervasive, they are also all over the place rather than rising up through the middle of the glass.
Nose: White stone fruit and minerals, grass.
Palate: Minerals, tart fruit, nice acidity, if it was a blind tasting, you may not guess that this wine is a rose!
Pairing: The salad really worked well with this wine, festive and pretty, as well as pairing well with the wine. If you did not have access to an orange olive oil, use a regular olive oil with a little orange juice. The candied walnuts also work well with the wine. So good with the fried chicken and surprisingly good with the mashed potatoes and gravy!
After this evening’s meal, we see why sparkling wine is a thing with fried chicken, it likes the salt and the fat of the meal.
After diving into the meal with the wine, we kept going back and forth between both wines and the meal and found that there was not a great deal of difference between the two with the meal; they both worked beautifully. The fried chicken really brings out the red stone fruit in the wines.
A fan of affordable food friendly sparkling wine? Stay tuned and subscribe! On December 1, we are writing about Itlalin sparkling wine, on december 8 we have a sparkling wine from Germany, and we sometime soon have two more Crémant d’Alsace– and one of them is biodynamic!
What did the other Winophiles taste? Find out along with how they paired it by checking out the links below or by joining our chat on twitter on Sat. Nov. 17 at 8am Pacific by following the hashtag #Winophiles.
- Liz Barrett: Affordalicious Crémant d’Alsace: Best Bubbles for the Buck #Winophiles
- Jill Barth: A Festival of French Crémant
- Robin Renken: A Sparkling Rosé by any other name…just might be a Crémant
- Camilla Mann: Lingcod, Legumes, and Domaine Mittnacht Frères Crémant d’Alsace.
- Susannah Gold: French Cremant – Perfect Sparklers for the Holiday Season
- Wendy Klik: Rustic Elegance; Fall Vegetable Soup paired with Cremant
- Payal Vora: Crémant d’Alsace: More Than Just A Sparkling Wine
- Lauren Walsh: Add a Little Sparkle to Your Holiday with Crémant d’Alsace
- Jeff Burrows: Elegant Crémant de Bourgogne Served with Lobster Two Ways
- Mardi Michaels: https://www.eatlivetravelwrite.com/2018/11/champagne-taste-but-not-a-champagne-budget-an-exploration-of-frances-cremant-wines
- David Crowley: Best Food Pairings for Crémant d’Alsace
- Martin Redmond: Elevating Weeknight Fare with Cremant d’Alsace #Winophiles
- Jane Niemeyer: How to Pair Crémant d’Alsace and Food
- Gwendolyn Alley: Crémant Rosé: 4 Affordable Food-Friendly Beauties for #winophiles
- Rupal Shankar: Five Reasons to Drink Crémant d’Alsace this Holiday Season will be writing “Five Reasons to Drink Crémant d’Alsace this Holiday Season”
- Kat Wisnosky: Crémant, the Prefect Style of Wine for a Festive Meal