There’s so much more to French sparkling wine than just Champagne. Sparkling wine is produced all over France using the same traditional method (and often same grapes) as Champagne. Called Crémant, the sparkling wine can be of the same high quality as Champagne, though typically costing much less.
There are seven appellations which include this designation in their name: Crémant d’Alsace, Crémant de Bordeaux, Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant de Die, Crémant du Jura, Crémant de Limoux and Crémant de Loire.
Crémant is not limited to the three grapes of Champagne (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier). Instead it may be made from one or a blend of each region’s native grapes, which can produce a range of flavors not found in Champagne.
Don’t limit yourself to Champagne – the variety of Crémant produced in France guarantees you’ll find several that you love.
Here are some Crémants to try:
Crémant de Bordeaux
Jaillance Cuvée de l’Abbaye Brut Crémant de Bordeaux ($19)
This sparkling wine is made entirely from Semillon, one of the two main white wine grapes in Bordeaux (Sauvignon Blanc is the other). This Crémant is aged on the lees for 24 months.
Dry, crisp and elegant, the Jaillance Cuvée de l’Abbaye has all the desirable characteristics you look for in a brut sparkling wine. It is extremely pale yellow in color, with round and fresh flavors. Ripe lemon, white grapefruit, white raspberries, almond and a touch of brioche are enhanced by small bubbles.
Click here to read a full review of the Jaillance Crémant
Crémant de Loire
De Chanceny Crémant de Loire Brut ($14)
This sparkling wine is made from 70% Chenin Blanc, 15% Chardonnay and 15% Cabernet Franc, all grapes grown in the Loire region. The grapes were hand-picked from 30 different families of growers, and the sparkling wine was aged for 18 months in cellars that date back to the 12th century.
The sparkling wine is pale straw yellow in color, as the juice from the Cabernet Franc grapes did not have contact with the color-imparting skins. The flavors from this red wine grape enhance the flavors of the two white wine grapes, adding a slight hint of white raspberry to the white grapefruit, lemon, pear and toast notes.
Crémant du Jura
Domaine Berthet-Bondet Crémant du Jura ($19)
Jura is perhaps the least well-known wine region in France, located just east of Burgundy. Its perched village of Château-Chalon (where Domaine Berthet-Bondet is located), is classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France.
This Crémant is made from Chardonnay and Savagnin, the two white wine grapes of the Jura. It is a lovely mix of citrus and white flowers. Flavors of lemon, white grapefruit and golden apple culminate in a dry and refreshing finish.
Jean Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut Reserve ($18)
This sparkling wine is made entirely from Pinot Blanc, a white wine grape that is a genetic mutation of Pinot Noir. Most Crémant d’Alsace is made from Pinot Blanc, though it may also be made from Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The Jean Albrecht Crémant is pale straw yellow in color with small bubbles. Dry and delicate flavors of white citrus and toast plus a hint of sweet apricot make this sparkling wine really enjoyable to drink.
Crémant de Bourgogne
Blason de Bourgogne Crémant de Bourgogne Cuvée Brut ($10)
With Chardonnay and Pinot Noir being the main grapes of Burgundy (Bourgogne in French), this region produces sparkling wines that are very similar to Champagne.
The Blason de Bourgogne Crémant has flavors of pear, apple and toasted bread that culminate in a crisp finish that has a hint of toasted almonds. With its small energetic bubbles this sparkling wine is easy to drink and light on the tongue, with a price tag that’s hard to beat.