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Bailly Lapierre Reserve Brut Cremant de Bourgogne NV

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.

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