Crémant d'Alsace - the affordable and sparkling French alternative to Champagne.
Question: It's a high quality sparkling wine, made in France and starts with the letter "C" - what is it?
Answer: Correct, Crémant d'Alsace.
Champagne is nice. But it has its price. Crémant is made in the same traditional way as Champagne with a second fermentation in the bottle, but it is more affordable. Crémant, although still somewhat exotic in the United States, is valued highly in France itself and also in neighboring countries as a less expensive alternative to Champagne.
The AOC Crémant d'Alsace is the youngest of the three appellations in Alsace. Alsatian sparkling wine gained appellation status in 1976. With official recognition the market grew quickly and today Crémant d'Alsace represents about 21% of Alsace's total wine production with a yearly production of 33 million bottles. The US is the fourth largest export market for Crémant d'Alsace, importing roughly 300,000 bottles.1.
Crémant d'Alsace can be made from Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Auxerrois and Pinot Noir. The grapes must have a minimum natural sugar content of 145 g/l, which equals 8.5° potential alcohol and must be harvested manually. The maximum authorized annual yield in 2008 was 80hl/ha.
Like Champagne, Crémant d’Alsace must undergo a secondary fermentation in bottle. The wine can not be bottled before January 1st after the harvest and then has to age for a minimum of 9 months on its lees.
The four Crémant d'Alsace wines I tasted for this article did not come close to a fine vintage Champagne, but neither they should - they are all priced under $25 and thus considerably cheaper than a Champagne. Considering the price, the quality of all of the wines was very good and they are definitely a step up from the average $12 bottle of Cava or Prosecco. Crémant is an attractive sparkling wine worth seeking out.
Albert Mann 2008 Crémant d'Alsace Brut
Grapes: Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Pinot Noir
This Crémant is made from the fruit of vines, which are 35 years old on average. They are organically grown on the vineyards in Kientzheim and Wettolsheim, which consist of Marl limestone soil. The wine has a pale golden color and a medium amount of small bubbles. The nose is quite herbal, a medium intensity of yellow apple, tree bark and woodruff. It is very dry and very crisp on the palate, with well integrated medium alcohol. Medium intensity of baked apple flavors, with a hint of bright citrus fruit and a touch of minerality, which give this Crémant a pleasant edge. Medium length. Austere and elegant Crémant with a touch of bitterness that makes it all the more charming. Good - very good.
Boxler 2008 Crémant d’Alsace Brut
Medium amount of small bubbles. Pure and clear aroma of ripe apple and bread crust. Very dry on the palate. Boxler's Crémant has high acidity, almost to the point where the wine starts tasting a bit austere. But there is also a medium intensity of ripe and lightly oxidized apple and and quince flavors. Medium length with a bitter finish. Pairs well with food. Good.
Lucien Albrecht NV Blanc de Blancs Crémant d’Alsace Brut
Grapes: 80% Pinot Auxerrois, 10% Pinot Blanc and 10% Chardonnay
Medium lemon color and medium amount of small bubbles. Medium intensity of citrus fruit and apple aromas. Dry, high acidity, medium alcohol and body. Medium intensity of quince, slightly herbal, but overall a very fruity sparkling wine with a medium length. Average - good.
Pierre Sparr NV Crémant d'Alsace Brut Reserve
Grapes: 90% Pinot Blanc, 10% Pinot Noir
Medium amount of medium-sized bubbles. Youthful nose of candied pear aroma, a bit flowery but also a bit shy. Dry on the palate, with high acidity and refreshing citrus fruit flavors but has a rather short length. Nevertheless, with its flowery aroma it will be a good fit for any picnic. Average