When the weather is warm and you have something to celebrate, we naturally look for sparkling wines. This year looks certain to be no exception. And there’s no shortage of choice; Prosecco continues to be hugely popular, as does Champagne. But so too does the third option here – Crémant de Bourgogne, which competes superbly on both quality and price. So what is Crémant, exactly? How does it differ from Prosecco, and why is it such a popular drink?
Crémant is a sparkling appellation in Burgundy which covers around 400 communes right across the region. It comes in several different varieties – blanc, blanc de blanc, blanc de noirs, and rosé. This last category is particularly interesting as we’ve seen an explosion of rosé’s popularity in recent years. In 2021, prosecco rosé is likely to be a big winner, both in the US and in Europe (in May 2020, for example, the Italian government gave the green light to the production of prosecco rosé). This popular demand is likely to be seen for rosé crémant too, where the rosés are a glorious pink-gold color, made with Pinot Noir (as you’d expect in Burgundy) with a little Gamay sometimes added. They’re ultra-recognisable and a great adornment to any al-fresco table.
Crémant is not trying to be either Champagne or Prosecco. It is very much its own drink, with its own identity. For example, it tends to have more depth and richness than prosecco, which aims for fruitiness and a slightly sweet texture. Cremant comes with the slightly toasty overtones you’d hope for in a good Champagne. It’s also extremely versatile as it drinks well as an aperitif or as a main meal accompaniment. Rosé goes especially well with sweet desserts like ice cream or red fruit tarts. And you can always add some cassis to your glass for a sweeter drink if you prefer.
Whether your taste is for Crémant, prosecco or Champagne, you’re in for a treat – but take care to choose wisely and learn a little about the producer before buying. A great Crémant is made by brothers Pascal and Laurent Borgeot and sold by Elden Selections – the Domaine Borgeot Crémant de Bourgogne. This is a versatile accompaniment to any great dinner; although it can be an excellent aperitif, it also sits perfectly happily alongside the main meal. The blanc will go well with stewed poultry dishes, whilst the blanc de blanc is a fine accompaniment to scallops or river fish. For a dessert wine try the rosé, whose powerful floral notes are a perfect partner to ice cream. Elden also stock Pierre Brigandat’s Champagne Brut Tradition so you can compare and contrast to your heart’s desire. This one is from one of the foremost small producers of Champagne, and is round and bright, with soft pearls of aromatic bubbles.
Production methods differ in several important ways. Prosecco is fermented for a second time in large tanks, whereas Crémant goes through this process in the bottle. Aging time varies – usually less than Champagne, but for those Crémants labelled as ‘Eminent’ it’s still a generous 24 months, and even longer for the ‘Grand Eminents’. The style is light, floral and very approachable – meaning it holds its own admirably alongside a decent Champagne.
France, of all the countries in the world which produce sparkling wine, is often claimed to be the actual (and spiritual) home of sparkling wines. Whether on purpose or by accident, it’s thought that the first sparkling wine was made in 1531 by Benedictine monks, just south of Carcassonne. The Champagne region perfected the technique, and Burgundy now produces its own sparkling Crémants to rival its more well-known cousins.