Why is Crémant d’Alsace second to Champagne as the most popular sparkling wine in France? The #Winophiles, a group of Francophiles who love all things French (especially wine), are exploring just that in our articles linked below. Truth be told, j’adore Crémant d’Alsace for its fresh, elegant, fruit forward profile, its budget friendly price and of course, its ability to complement an array of dishes.
Photo Credit: www.winefolly.com
The Diversity of Alsace
Located in the northeastern corner of France, Alsace boasts a geological diversity like no other region in the world as it follows the long and narrow Rhine River. The Vosges Mountains provide stunning scenery for anyone who wants to travel the Alsace Wine Route, a 106-mile path through more than 100 bucolic wine villages.
With low annual rainfall between 300 and 650 meters and 1800 hours of sun per year, the period for grape ripening enjoys warm days and cool nights. The pioneers of organic viticulture in France originated in Alsace in the 1960s. The region now boasts 35K acres of vineyards of which 35% are certified organic and/or biodynamic or in conversion.
In Alsace, 53 appellations have been designated. Wines from AOC Alsace are affordable and easy drinking and sparkling wines of Crémant d’Alsace are produced in the traditional method. Those from 51 unique Grand Cru appellations offer wines of rich complexity and structure. Soils are just as diverse as the wines – clay, limestone, granite, calcareous-limestone, marl, dolomite, gypsum and Keuper are soils upon which premium vineyards are located.
Although many think of Riesling as the only white grape produced in Alsace, the region is actually responsible for six other varieties – including red. Of styles ranging from light-bodied and fresh to full-bodied and bold, mouthwatering and flavorful Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gewurtztraminer, Sylvaner, Muscat d’Alsace and Pinot Noir are cultivated.
What About Crémant d’Alsace?
Crémant d’Alsace earned its AOC status in 1976. As of 2021, 34M bottles are produced comprising 27% of all production in Alsace and more than half of all French crémant.
It’s produced using the traditional method whereby, like Champagne, the second fermentation is in the bottle. Wines can be made from grape varieties such as Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Auxerrois, or Chardonnay that’s only allowed in AOC Crémant and not in AOC still wines. A single variety such as Pinot Noir is used to create Blanc de Noirs.
In essence, Crémant d’Alsace may be a blend or a single variety and most are non-vintage. We can find some wines that are Brut Nature, but the majority are Brut or Extra Brut. The grapes are hand harvested many days before other grapes cultivated in Alsace.
Crémant d’Alsace Plays Well with a Variety of Foods
Delicately fresh and elegantly aromatic, Crémant d’Alsace is an excellent value. Bubbly in the glass with light and refreshing aromas and tastes, it’s perfect as an aperitif or with creamy cheeses such as brie or camembert, oysters, salmon tartare, fried chicken, potato chips or popcorn. Consider complementing your favorite pizza with a glass of Crémant d’Alsace or using it as an ingredient in cocktails. Be sure to serve it quite chilled – 41 – 44 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal.
Photo Credit: Kermit Lynch
A few weeks ago, I popped the cork on a beautiful Meyer Fonne Crémant d’Alsace Brut Extra ($25) that was sent as a sample. From an exclusive family business spanning three generations, the family’s vineyards now cover 15 hectares over 7 communes in Alsace. The Meyers are descended from a Swiss family that immigrated to Katzenthal in 1732.
Bone dry, this Crémant is of Auxerrois, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir cultivated on mostly granitic soils with alluvial deposits. As a result, I found aromas of flowers and snappy orchard fruit as well as a soft yet spicy minerality on the palate – mouthwatering! Because the Crémant spends only one year on its lees before disgorgement (notably less time than practiced in Champagne), this wine was young, fresh and lively. Truly this was joy to drink especially when paired with an evening snack of homemade popcorn sprinkled with truffle salt!
Cheers! ~ Cindy
Discover more about Crémant d’Alsace from my #winophiles colleagues!
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