Our top 25 sparkling crémants
Decanter|August 2021
If you haven’t discovered the connoisseur’s fizz yet, here are 25 sparkling reasons to explore France’s wide range of deliciously on-trend, bottle-fermented crémant styles
GEORGINA HINDLE

While Champagne gets much of the sparkling wine glory, with its established image of prestige, and Prosecco the lion's share of attention at the more affordable end of the market, there is no French wine category more versatile and complex than its crémant sparkling wines.

This single designation comprises eight officially classified appellation regions within France, including Crémant de Alsace, de Bordeaux, de Bourgogne, de Loire and de Limoux, each with its own distinct style and unique blend of grapes best-suited to its region.

Indeed a glass of crémant could comprise 100% of varieties including Riesling, Chenin Blanc or Jacquère, a 50/50 blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle, or Champagne varieties Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Unlike Prosecco, which undergoes fermentation in tank, these traditional-method French sparkling wines are made in the same labor-intensive way as Champagne, with a secondary bottle fermentation and ageing in bottle on lees for a minimum of nine months or longer, to develop body and complexity.

More than 800 élaborateurs make about 110 million bottles annually, according to the federation representing crémant producers across France, FNPEC. While crémant production volumes are about one third of Champagne’s total, and it may lack the historical associations of Champagne, crémant is experiencing a surge of popularity and is increasingly the fizz of choice for wine lovers seeking the sweet spot between price and quality.

‘Since March 2020 and the first lockdown, we were interested to see that our sales of Prosecco dropped significantly, and we sold more crémant and Cava than ever before’, says Lindsay Poole, director of UK merchant Wine Poole. The same trend has been noticed again this year and Poole attributes it to the wines being less sweet than Prosecco. It’s for this reason she believes that the company has also seen a rise in the popularity of Italy’s Franciacorta sparkling wines.

TASTE EXPLORATION

Trevor Gulliver, CEO and co-founder of St John group, which recently added a house Crémant de Limoux cuvée to its wine shop offering (see p51), believes ‘people will pay for sense of place, tradition and quality’ and would argue that ‘terroir or place is not uppermost in people’s minds when it comes to regular Cava or Prosecco’.

Regarding the crémant market, Sylvie Lacube, marketing manager for Domaine J Laurens in Languedoc, says: ‘At one point, Cava and Prosecco were so trendy that it was more difficult to sell a crémant. But after a while, people begin looking for something with more body and finesse, even if the wines are more expensive.’

And in terms of price points, crémants at the £10-£20 mark are the most popular at The Wine Society, although the UK merchant is seeing ‘encouraging growth over £20, too’, with the category overall ‘representing nearly half of the total non-Champagne sparkling sales’, according to sparkling wine buyer Sarah Knowles MW.

But where crémant’s range of styles might potentially lead to confusion for consumers, the category does also provide a perfect opportunity for exploration. As with all wines, broad generalisations are difficult, with the different regional terroirs, viticulture and vinification all playing a part. However, if you’re interested in exploring sparkling wines that show yeasty, buttery patisserie flavours from ageing on the lees, look to crémants with a more neutral base, such as those made predominantly from Pinot Blanc (Alsace), Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (Bourgogne), Chardonnay and Savagnin (Jura), or Chardonnay and Jacquère (Savoie).

For fruitier styles, look to the Loire and Limoux for high-acid, crisp and appley Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay-based wines – you’ll also find red fruit flavours from Cabernet Franc in the former, and even tropical elements from the Mauzac grape in the latter. For aromatic and floral wines from Clairette, Aligoté and Muscat, look out for the crémants of Die in the Drôme.

Vintage crémant bottlings are usually richer and more complex, suited for longer ageing and better at pairing with food, while most crémant non-vintage bottlings are refreshing, juicy and zesty, and make an excellent apéritif.

Many crémants are best consumed within two or three years of purchase, although some bottles have the capacity to age beyond 10. Serve cold, between 5°C-8°C, with lighter wines at the cooler end and the more structured at the other.

The following pages show 25 of the best-scoring crémants out of a total of 120 tasted in June 2021. All tasting notes and scores are available via decanter.com/premium.

1 Domaine J Laurens, Les Graimenous Brut, Crémant de Limoux 2018 93

£14.67-£20 Banstead Vintners, Cellar Selected, Hedley Wright, Kwoff, Roberson, Theatre of Wine, Wine Poole, Wine & Greene, Wines of Interest

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM DECANTERView All

My top 20 South American Bordeaux blends

Argentina, Chile and Uruguay have a shared formula for fine wines, taking inspiration from the Bordeaux tradition. These wines are excelling today, thanks to increasingly refined winemaking methods and exceptional vintages

10 mins read
Decanter
April 2022

2019 revisited Bordeaux in bottle

After tasting more than 800 newly bottled 2019 wines, Decanter’s Bordeaux correspondent is full of praise for the vintage’s consistent and expressive wines, with successes on both Left and Right Bank

10+ mins read
Decanter
April 2022

Southern Rhône 2020

Following on from the northern Rhône 2020 report in our last issue, we delve into the year’s southern Rhône releases, based on a tasting of more than 1,200 wines. This vintage’s wines should be quite accessible when young, and there are some particularly noteworthy whites

10+ mins read
Decanter
April 2022

South African Sauvignon Blanc 10 top producers

Sit up and take notice: South Africa is blazing a trail in the New World, making site-expressive Sauvignon Blanc. The local winemakers’ respect for their terroir has seen a growing number turning out Sauvignons that speak confidently of their origins. Here are 10 names to watch

10+ mins read
Decanter
April 2022

FIVE OF THE BEST IRISH WHISKEYS

Popular with drinkers around the world, Irish whiskey has experienced mixed fortunes in the past and the category nearly died out altogether a few decades ago.

2 mins read
Decanter
April 2022

The Algarve

Its year-round sun and dramatic coastline mean it’s already a much-loved beach holiday destination. But this southern Portuguese hotspot is upping its game, providing plenty to tempt wine lovers inland for a taste of something different

8 mins read
Decanter
April 2022

THE JUNIPER HUNTERS

A small number of British distillers are choosing native juniper rather than popular imported European options to make their gins

6 mins read
Decanter
April 2022

Judy Joo's Ultimate KFC

This spicy Korean Fried Chicken dish features in a new book celebrating female chefs on the British food scene. We’ve matched it with wine styles that can take the heat

6 mins read
Decanter
April 2022

My life as a personal wine consultant

It isn’t a job you’ll see advertised, so what does it take to become one? Right place, right time? Experience, qualifications, hard work, connections? All of those and more, it turns out

8 mins read
Decanter
April 2022

A heavy price

Making glass bottles lighter is an easy way to reduce wine's carbon emissions - yet it remains a weighty issue for the industry, with many producers yet to make changes

6 mins read
Decanter
April 2022
RELATED STORIES

ONCE UPON A PLANET

Can hopeful books help kids tame their climate anxiety?

4 mins read
Mother Jones
May/June 2022

Business Regrets? They've Had a Few

There are many reasons why companies go thumbs-down on good ideas. Some of those reasons seem reasonable:

3 mins read
Inc.
May - June 2022

Leading the Smart Appliance Revolution

Thermador and the future of kitchen tech.

2 mins read
Entrepreneur
June 2022

5 Reasons to Buy a Desktop PC Instead of a Laptop

Before you buy a new laptop, take a moment to consider the benefits of a dedicated desktop computer.

4 mins read
PCWorld
May 2022

GOOGLE ADOPTS AN APPLE-LIKE APPROACH FOR ITS PIXEL PRODUCTS

Google took a big step toward pushing its Pixel product line-up down a road already paved by Apple and its array of trendsetting devices.

4 mins read
Techlife News
May 14, 2022

Self Service Repair

Empowering consumers to fix their devices

5 mins read
AppleMagazine
May 13, 2022

Apple Delivers Strong Quarter, but Warns of Trouble Ahead

Apple reported strong quarterly results despite supply shortages, but warned that its growth slowdown is likely to deepen.

3 mins read
AppleMagazine
May 06, 2022

De-FAANGed

Investors are rethinking a strategy that's served them for the better part of a decade

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
May 02, 2022

Apple Mac Studio: An Absolute Powerhouse

Amping up the mini-Mac for serious creators

10+ mins read
PC Magazine
May 2022

Affordable, Tested Tech Actually Worth Buying

Our experts review more than 2,000 products each year: laptops, TVs, phones, routers, you name it. Here are some of the very best budget buys.

10+ mins read
PC Magazine
May 2022