Champagne is outrageously expensive. I tried to order one bottle of Krug 1990 for the restaurant and it was $768. For one bottle. Wholesale. We didn’t get it. Blame it on the soft dollar and emerging markets’ thirst for primo bubbly.
While some people will only drink the “real” thing, alternative sparklers will be featured on retail shelves and wine lists this summer. Cremant is a delicious and more affordable alternative.
This particular wine is from Burgundy, but crémant can be made in any wine region in France. In order to put cremant on the label, producers must follow strict rules and what is now called the traditional method. The Champenois put an end to the use of méthode champenoise or Champagne Method in the ’80s when it was outlawed by the European Union.
The hallmark of the traditional method is the wine goes through its second fermentation, which produces the bubbles, in the bottle, as opposed to a tank or an injection of CO2. Nine months of resting on the lees before release is mandatory, as are yields of 100 liters of juice per 150 kilograms of grapes and submission to a tasting panel.
Crémant de Bourgogne from the OCW:
This appellation, created in 1975, replaced that of Bourgogne Mousseux (now used exclusively for sparkling red burgundy), under which name sparkling burgundy of all colours enjoyed considerable commercial success in the 1950s and 1960s. All grape varieties grown in Burgundy are allowed into Crémant, although gamay may not constitute more than a fifth of the blend. Yields are limited to about 65 hl/ha. Rully in the Côte Chalonnaise and Auxerre in the far north of Burgundy are the principal sources of Crémant de Bourgogne (Côte d’Or grapes being in general worth considerably more when sold as still wine), and there can be considerable stylistic differences between their produce. Crémant from southern Burgundy can be full and soft, a good-value alternative to bigger styles of champagne, while Crémant made in the north is usually much lighter and crisper.
This wine is from Auxerre. Tasting note after the jump.
Clear, pale copper color with small persistent bubbles.
Clean, youthful nose with medium pronounced aromas of red berries, citrus and earthy minerals.
Dry, medium alcohol and medium acidity, faint tannins and medium minus body. The wine has medium pronounced flavors of ruby red grapefruit (or is this because I had ruby red grapefruit at breakfast?) sour cherry. Long on palate with a medium finish.
This is a young wine of good quality. The fruit and the acid are balanced. It’s not very complex, but it’s very clean and mouthfilling. Drink now; it’s not going to get better with age.
The copper color is interesting and suggests a high percentage of pinot noir and a decision to leave the juice on the skins just long enough to impart some color. It’s 12 percent alcohol. Let’s see if the winery’s website lists the varietals. It’s in French so this will take me a minute.
They don’t list varietals by cuvee, but the site says pinot noir gives the signature taste of Bailly Lapierre. They also are very proud of the soil in their growing region, which is 15 kilometers from Chablis and 60 kilometers from Champagne. It’s limestone described as kimméridgien soil, which is from the Kimmeridgian era.
One more thing. Brut, when used with sparkling wine means the finished wine will have no more than 15 grams per liter of residual sugar. This is something I had to look up, again.