Champagne and crémant, the same thing?
All champagne are sparkling wines, but not all sparkling wines are champagne.
Champagne has been wrongfully used as a generic term to describe any sparkling wine. But what are the differences between champagne and crémant? In fact, the line between the two is thin: champagne can only be produced in the region of the same name. Champagne is a protected appellation, not unlike a trademark.
Crémant is the equivalent to its region to what champagne is to Champagne. Both are made using the same winemaking methods, the Méthode traditionnelle.
Are there differences between Champagne and crémant, other than the name?
Well yes. Each region has its own vinicultural traditions, its grapes and set of rules. France has eight regions that can use the crémant appellation: Alsace, Burgundy, Jura, Savoy, Die (Rhône), Limoux (Languedoc), Bordeaux and the Loire Valley.
Grapes used will reflect the climate and terroir of the region: Champagne will use Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, Burgundy will use Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, while in the Loire Valley it’s mostly Chenin Blanc.
Winemaking specifications are similar between Champagne and other regions: maximum yield per hectare and maximum juice yield per 150kg of grapes, etc. The minimum amount of time spent on lees is also regulated (12 months for crémant, 15 months for champagne).
The winemaking method used allows for the most complex of sparkling wines. Other methods can be used (injection of gas, Charmat or ancestral method), but will result in less complexity and bubbles that are not as fine and lasting.
Do we keep sparkling wines only for celebrations and cocktails? No! Sparkling winess are versatile at the table and pair easily with pretty much anything from appetizers to desserts. Please don’t wait for a special occasion, bubbles will make any occasion, even a Tuesday evening, a special occasion. Try a champagne with parmesan popcorn or crémant de Loire with oysters.
Crémants remain an affordable alternative to champagne. But, one or the other, they’re both bottled stars!
Did you know… that rosé champagne is the only rosé in France for which it is allowed to blend red and white wine?