The Rise of Cremant 

Christine Nicolson

I remember the heady days when Champagne was as ‘cheap as chips’. I was in my mid-twenties working for a national wine retailer and we would drink Champagne with regular abandon. Oh, those were the days! Granted, that bourgeois drinking was almost 20 years ago but in the grand scheme of things, wine prices haven’t risen drastically over the past two decades (although we are due to see a rise this year).  Unfortunately, Champagne prices have gone up. There are several reasons for this of course; one being that demand outstrips supply. Champagne’s reputation is synonymous with luxury and wealth and will always be highly desired.

What about Prosecco?

Over the past few years, there have been shortages, escalating production costs, a pandemic and Brexit to contend with so consumers and retailers have been looking elsewhere for their fizzy fix. Before wine trends predicted the rise of Crémant, we had tried some seriously excellent ones back in 2017 and even though we were still riding on the Prosecco wave, we decided to diversify our sparkling wine offering and import a few new Crémant to our portfolio. Prosecco has been a huge success story in the past 10 years, but customers had been wanting something different, something that has a bit more flavour and complexity. Something akin to Champagne but considerably cheaper.

Same But Different

Unfortunately, these days, I only tend to drink Champagne on special occasions. However, I believe that the Friday feeling is always alleviated by some fine bubbles. Enter Crémant. There is usually one or two bottles kicking about in the fridge and there’s no guilt over opening an expensive bottle, even if I was to open one on a school night!

Crémant sparkling wines are made using the same production methods as Champagne called methode champenoise or methode traditionelle. Secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle, as opposed to the production of some Proseccos or Cava which happen in huge steel tanks. The secondary fermentation process gives character, extra flavour forms texture and finer bubbles. Ageing is also extremely important as it gives deeper complexity.  If you want to find out more about how Champagne and Sparkling Wine is made, read this informative article from Wine Folly.

There are eight regions in France that are currently producing excellent quality Crémant. This includes prominent regions such as Burgundy, Alsace, the Loire Valley and Bordeaux. The main difference between Champagne and Crémant is that Crémant is made regionally with grape varieties specific to that area, whereas due to strict regulations, Champagne is only allowed 3 grape varieties- Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

The regionality is very important here because every producer in those areas will make a sparkling wine suited to the grape varieties and their microclimates. For example, Crémant de Loire will predominantly be made from Chenin Blanc and Crémant d’Alsace will be made from grape varieties indigenous to Alsace such as Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Pinot Gris etc.

Cremant at de Burgh

We are proud of the Crémant that we sell at de Burgh. Meyer Fonne and Domaine de la Verpaille are small organic growers who consistently produce amazing wines including their Crémant. De Chanceny is a slightly larger operation but at its core is quality and attention to detail. Not to mention their Rose Crémant is a hit when the sun shines!