Happy sparkling season, everyone! While I always say bubbles of any type are an awesome option for any time, we are entering the most sparkliest season of all – the holidays! A number of bloggers who are part of the French #Winophiles were lucky enough to receive several sample bottles of delicious Crémant d’Alsace, and I’m here to give you the straight scoop on these sexy and affordable sparklers!
First things first: what is Cremant d’Alsace? It’s a French sparkling wine made in the Alsace region of France, which is in the northeast, bordering Germany. It is made in the same way as Champagne – which is known as Methode Champenoise – where the second fermentation – the one that creates the bubbles — happens in each bottle. (The other method is called Charmat, where the second fermentation happens in a large tank and then the sparkling wines are bottled. Most Prosecco is made in the Charmat method, which is less expensive).
But the grapes in Cremant d’Alsace are quite different from the Big Three in Champagne (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier). In Alsace, crémant can be made from six different types of grapes including: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and/or Auxerrois. Cremant d’Alsace accounts for approximately 22 percent of all Alsatian wine.
Not only are the wines delicious – they are affordable! Which of course translated to affordalicious. While $40 is the entry price for most good Champagne, Crémant d’Alsace can be had for far less. You’ll find great bottles for anywhere from $15 – $30 – and it’s really hard to find a bottle over $28, actually. Check out the three I got to try:
Domaine Camille Braun Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé NV ($25). This is the luxury end of the category and it is deeeelicious! Rosé Crémant d’Alsace is kind of rare, so I was excited to try this 100 percent Pinot Noir bubbly.
Made by the Braun family, which goes back to 1583 in Alsace, the domaine was started in 1902. It’s a small winery, with 32 acres of vineyards farmed biodynamically. Only 2000 cases of this wine are made each year.
The wine is fresh and lively with a festival of fruits bursting one on the palate, including red raspberry green apple and dried cherries. And then a slight floral note made itself known. It tasted like a more serious wine, but the pale pink color keeps it fun and lively.
Lucien Albrecht Blanc de Blancs Crémant d’Alsace Brut NV ($18). Wow – this wine was totally different from the Camille Braun! It wine sings with bright lemon curd and shy white flowers and a mild brioche notes, like there’s a bakery three blocks away making fresh bread. It was fresh and rich at the same time with racy acids and a trace of sweetness. At $18, it punches well above its weight. The grapes are 80 percent Pinot Auxerrois, 10 percent Pinot Blanc and 10 percent Chardonnay.
Lucien Albrecht is one of the largest and most distinguished brands in Alsace, beginning in 1425 (!) The family is well regarded for innovating to achieve the highest quality and they kind of hit their mark in 2004, when they swept the 14th Concours National des Crémant de France, winning an unprecedented four gold medals. Cha-Ching!
Klipfel Crémant d’Alsace Brut NV ($16). Made from equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, this sparkler was quite refined and clean on the palate, with subtle green apple and citrus notes and a very frothy texture. This would be a fabulous party wine with salty roasted almonds, cheeses of almost any type – super versatile.
As I was thinking about what sort of feast to prepare with these gorgeous wines in that funky French corner that, culturally, has sort of a hybrid Franco-Germanic thing going on, my mind went to SAUSAGE! Yes, yes, I know, I’m becoming Liz “the Sausage Queen” Barrett, but come on — how could I not do Bratwurst with sour kraut, Brussels sprouts and spuds? And of course, to add interest to the whole lot, I went bananas with three types of mustard.
All I did was halve the sprouts and quarter the spuds, and toss them with a mix of olive oil and whole-grain Dijon mustard. Roast at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, then toss that sausage right onto the sheet pan. Back in the oven for about 20 more minutes. Meanwhile, heat up the sour kraut in a pan on the stove, and mince up some parsley, because man, this can be one super-beige dish, unless you brighten it up. So good with these wines!
As you’re shopping for sparkling wines this season, keep an eye out for Crémant d’Alsace – they really are “affordalicious,” as I like to say. And check out these other awesome posts from my fellow French Winophiles. You also can join us on Twitter on Sat., Nov. 17 at 10 a.m. CST. We’ll be talking all about Crémant d’Alsace and you know – it’s never too early for a few bubbles on a Saturday morning! Cheers!
Jill Barth from L’Occasion will show us “A Festival of French Crémant”
Robin Renken from Crushed Grape Chronicles will publish “A Sparkling Rosé by any other name…just might be a Crémant”
Camilla Mann will talk about a tasting pairing, Lingcod, Legumes, and Domaine Mittnacht Frères Crémant d’Alsace on her blog Culinary Adventures with Cam.
Susannah Gold from avivinare.com will share her post “French Cremant – Perfect Sparklers for the Holiday Season” Susannah is also on Twitter @vignetocomm and Insta: @vignetocomms)
Martin Redmond will be “Elevating Weeknight Fare with Cremant d’Alsace” at the Enofylz Wine Blog
Nicole Ruiz Hudson’s post on SommsTable.com will be “Crémants for Going Out and Staying In”
Wendy Klik of A Day in the Life on the Farm is writing “Rustic Elegance; Fall Vegetable Soup paired with Cremant” which sounds perfect for Thanksgiving!
Jane Niemeyer will teach us “How to Pair Crémant d’Alsace and Food” at alwaysravenous.com
Payal Vora’s post at Keep the Peas will be called “Crémant d’Alsace: More Than Just A Sparkling Wine”
Lauren Walsh from The Swirling Dervish will “Add a Little Sparkle to Your Holiday with Crémant d’Alsace”.
Jeff Burrows will be pairing “Elegant Crémant de Bourgogne Served with Lobster Two Ways” at foodwineclick.com
Gwendolyn Alley from winepredator.com is going to be looking at Crémants from a variety of regions in her post this weekend.
David Crowley from cookingchatfood.com will be discussing the “Best Food Pairings for Crémant d’Alsace”
Rupal Shankar the Syrah Queen will be giving us “Five Reasons to Drink Crémant d’Alsace this Holiday Season”
Neil will be joining us from Eat, Live, Travel, Write with a post entitled “Champagne taste but not a Champagne budget? An exploration of France’s Crémant wines”
Kat Wisnosky from Bacchus Travel and Tours shares her point of view on Cremant.