Champagne is not the only region in France to make sparkling wine. But you could be forgiven for thinking it is, given the lack of other French regions’ bubbly on sale in the UK. Then again, great value is often found when a style is forced to sit in the shadow of a much more famous cousin…
‘Cremant’ is a generic term used in France for wine that does not come from Champagne but is made in the same way as Champagne. So besides Cremant de Loire, you might also spot Cremant de Bourgogne, Cremant d’Alsace or even Cremant de Jura. Any of these are likely to be worth a punt.
Making sparkling wine, particularly by the ‘traditional method’, takes more work than most still wines. So, other things being equal, it’s always going to cost more. At £6.99, this Cremant de Loire has to be considered quite cheap. Which is why I was surprised to find it had picked up so much character from the lees, or in other words, dead yeast.
For anyone who’s wondering, that’s where the savoury characters of classic Champagne come from. The nose of this Cremant is much like the experience of hovering over bread dough that’s busy proving. This carries through onto the initial palate, but is then swept aside as the Chenin Blanc’s appley character takes over. Ripe and yet still full of tantalising acidity.
The bubbles have an impressive persistence for a modestly priced sparkling, but my palate would have preferred a little less sweetness. Then again, I’m sure others will love it just as it is.
Overall, an excellent, value-for-money alternative to ‘entry-level’ Champagne.