Champagne is synonymous with celebration. However, there are a number of viable alternatives for those looking to celebrate with a cheaper sparkling wine. We are no doubt familiar with Cava and Prosecco. Indeed, the UK makes up 36% of the world’s Prosecco consumption. Perhaps less well known is Crémant and even more specifically Crémant de Loire.
Crémant is sparkling wine, made outside the Champagne region, through the same method of production. There are a number of different Crémant producing regions all across France, but perhaps the most notable is the Crémant from the Loire valley. This being Crémant de Loire.
Over this article, we’ll look into what goes into making Crémant and the tasting notes you can expect. We will also look into the Loire Valley in greater detail, as well as some of the notable producers to look out for, when you’re picking up your first bottle of Crémant.
What Is Crémant?
We’ve touched upon Crémant as an alternative to Champagne. However, the further you look into it the more you realise just how similar they are. Champagne is sparkling wine made in the Champagne region. However, there is more to it than just that. Champagne goes through a process called ‘methode traditionelle’. In this method, secondary fermentation occurs once the wine is in the bottle.
By contrast, secondary fermentation for Prosecco takes place in large stainless steel tanks. This ‘methode traditionelle’ helps to create a creamier and richer texture and mousse to the Champagne, (and the Crémant).
This different approach is important because the exact same process occurs with Crémant. The only real difference is that the process is taking place outside of the Champagne region. That and it is often a good amount cheaper! You can find an excellent bottle of Crémant from £15-£25. Whereas entry price points on Champagne will often be above £30. Crémant offers a sparkling wine with the same method of production and tasting notes, for a way cheaper price point. When you are looking to save money on wine this is one of the little tips and tricks savy wine drinkers know about.
This ‘methode traditionelle’ really is a process that is taking place all over France as well. Some of the well-known regions include; Loire, Bordeaux, Alsace and Bourgogne. The mountainous Alsace in particular has some fantastic offerings to look at. However, one of the very best regions is undoubtedly found in the Loire Valley. Over the next section we’ll dive into the Loire Valley region and see what makes a great Crémant.
The Loire Valley is a vast and expansive wine region. It is also one of the most notable in France, (which is saying something). The Loire Valley region, from which we get Crémant de Loire, follows the Loire River. This is all the way from the Muscadet region on the coast by the Atlantic ocean. It then stretches towards the city of Orléans in central Northern France and down to the South by Nevers.
The Loire Valley can then be split into four sub regions. The Lower Loire on the North-western coast. The Middle Loire which is the most hospitable climate in the Loire Valley, slightly inland from the Lower Loire. Next is the Central Loire, which has a classic continental climate. Hot in Summer and cold in Winter. Finally, is the Upper Loire, this is the southernmost point with a wide range of climates, due to great variances in altitude.
Let’s look at the Middle Loire region in greater detail, as this is where the majority of Crémant de Loire is produced. The Middle Loire region is often referred to as the ‘Garden of France’. This is because it is such a rich and green area. It is far enough inland to not be adversely affected by ocean breezes. The presence of the Loire river also has a fortuitous effect on the temperature which makes it ideal for vineyards. This climate has been dubbed by some as the ‘Angevin mildness’.
Notable Crémant de Loire Producers
Now, we know what makes Crémant de Loire what it is and also where it is made. Next is to review some notable producers of Crémant de Loire and see how they go about making some fantastic wines.
First, let’s look at Domaine Dhommé. They are located in a small town in the heart of the Anjou province. In 2014, this fourth-generation producer committed to using more natural methods to bring about their fantastic wines, of which Crémant de Loire is one of them. This is great for consumers, as organic and sulphite free wine possess a number of benefits. With offerings of both white and rose Crémant de Loire this small vineyard is highly recommended. Certainly a great place to start if you’re looking for Crémant.
Another example of a producer of Crémant de Loire, who have recently converted to organic farming after a long-history is Domaine de Bablut. The Daviau family have been producing wine on the same site since 1546!
They have always had a huge respect for the terroir and wider environment. This translated to a shift to organic farming practices in 1996. Domaine de Bablut has a number of fantastic wines to choose from. Wines from a number of different styles and grapes. This includes a delicious Crémant de Loire.
Now, let’s look at what you can expect in terms of taste from Crémant de Loire, as well as some recommendations of what to food pairs well with Cremant.
The grapes within a Crémant de Loire can vary considerably. The most common types are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In terms of taste, colour and appearance, you can expect a pale gold colour. This is accompanied by a strong and persistent fizz. Then, a number of the usual tasting notes are similar to Champagne. Apples, pears and toasted almonds are all common. Let’s look at two specific wines, one from each of the producers referenced earlier to see what you can expect.
First, something pink from Domaine Dhommé – Cremant De Loire Rose Brut. This Crémant de Loire has strong notes of red fruits both on the nose and palate. With a great degree of acidity, which makes this such a light and easy to drink option. Something light like smoked salmon blinis would be a perfect food pairing here.
Now, for a white Crémant de Loire, from Domaine de Bablut – Cremant De Loire Brut. This is also incredibly light and crisp. It has a citrus taste, with a creaminess of fresh baked brioche on the nose, that will make you feel like you are in France. So, with that in mind, I’d recommend a fried chicken sandwich, in a toasted brioche bun. Fried chicken and a delicious sparkling wine may sound like sacrilege but trust me on this one, it’s a thing!
Crémant is an excellent alternative to Champagne. It’s just as tasty and far more affordable. Next time you’re stocking up on something sparkling for your next celebration, (or your own personal party), you should seriously consider Crémant de Loire. We also have listed our top 5 easy sparkling wine cocktails to get your next party rocking.
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