Champagne and Prosecco might be the dominant markets for fizzy wine globally at present, but a moments thought should lead you to discover another sparkling wine type ….. Cremant. This is the generic name for wines made in France that are not permitted to use the name Champagne, simply because they are not from that Appelation (wine region). So it is possible to find many more sparkling wines from France, made with a range of grapes other than Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, from as many as EIGHT regions. These eight regions of France that can use the title Crémant are:
- Crémant d’Alsace
- Crémant de Bordeaux
- Crémant de Bourgogne
- Crémant de Die
- Crémant du Jura.
- Crémant de Limoux
- Crémant de Loire
- Crémant de Savoie
I would suggest to anyone interested in sparkling wine to at least try one of these regions of Crémant as the taste certainly matches that of Champagne and Prosecco and in most cases you will find them far cheaper.
One of my favourites is from the Loire Valley and that is the Crémant de Loire, with wine growing areas being Saumur, Touraine and Anjou. We are visiting the Loire later this month on my Wines 101 quest and will certainly sample a few of the best examples of this brilliant fizz.
One of our favourite Cremant wine producers is Gratien & Meyer based in Saumur. They not only have an excellent range of Cremant with whites made from Chenin Blanc as well as a rare RED sparkler made from Cabernet Franc, but also have a very interesting history of how the winemaking began in this old established firm.
“In 1864, Alfred Gratien established his cellars in the old tuffeau limestone galleries of the Saumur hillside. Originally an excavation site, stones dug from these quarries by ‘perreyeurs’ (or quarrymen) from the 12th century onwards were used to build many of the region’s important monuments (most notably the Château de Saumur). The quarries had been abandoned for a number of years when Alfred Gratien bought the estate and took over 20 hectares of vines and 5 km of galleries. He was then able to devote himself to producing fine sparkling wines in Saumur. Later in the same year he also moved into champagne production after setting up a second house in Epernay.”
A Meeting of Minds
“Shortly afterwards he met Jean-Albert Meyer, a wine-grower’s son and a native of Alsace. Once these two enthusiasts had met, the business experienced a real boom, enabling Alfred Gratien’s work to continue over the long term. In 1884, Monsieur Gratien began work on Château Gratien, which would not be completed until after his death in 1885. His widow then appointed Jean-Albert Meyer as general manager of the cellars.”
“The business prospered so well under Monsieur Meyer’s management that Madame Gratien decided in 1896 to make him a partner, and changed the name of the cellars to Gratien & Meyer. The founders’ sons subsequently joined the company’s management one-by-one to work alongside Monsieur Meyer. Robert Gratien sadly died in the First World War, at the Battle of Verdun in 1916. When Monsieur Meyer died in 1922 after 37 years in charge of the cellars, his son Albert-Edmond took the reins at the Maison Gratien & Meyer. A shrewd manager, he launched a series of major construction projects, including the majestic Art Deco facade and glass partition, behind which is the concrete vat of the Daubron centraliser, at the time a piece of cutting-edge technology. Eric Seydoux joined the company in 1936. He was the son-in-law of Albert-Edmond Meyer, and replaced him when the latter died in 1965. He later brought in his two sons, Alain and Gérard, who took over the business in 1992.”
So, there you have it, a little piece of wine history, wine culture, and some new sparklers to try. Snap them up while they’re still at a bargain price, find a good producer like Gratien Meyer or Ackerman for Cremant de Loire and be ahead of the next wine-rush! More shortly from our Wines 101 quest in the Loire Valley.
So what about the U.K.?
In the UK the rise of popularity within consumers for sparkling wines is on a big increase, the exports of Crémant de Loire wine to the UK have risen by 34% in 2017. Whereas Champagne and more recently Prosecco have dominated the sparkling wine market in the UK.