Sip & Swirl: Sparkling wines from Crémant d’Alsace offer diversity and value | Bakersfield life
Most New Year’s celebrations include champagne and other sparkling wines. To be called Champagne, it must be made according to a specific process called the Champagne method and come from the homonymous region of France. A characteristic stage of the complex Champagne method requires a second fermentation which takes place over several years in the bottle.
Other sparkling wines produced using the Champagne method include prosecco from northern Italy, cava from Spain, sekt from Germany, and sparkling wines from California and the Pacific Northwest. The term “Crémant” is used to define French sparkling wines produced in a traditional way, but excluding Champagne. For something unique, accessible and reasonably priced, Crémant d’Alsace wines are worth a detour.
The Alsace region is located in the northeast of France and borders both Germany and Switzerland. The Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) Crémant d’Alsace is one of the three regional appellations and was designated in 1976 for the production of sparkling wines.
While champagne is limited to Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes, the crisp and dry Crémant d’Alsace wines are mainly made from Pinot Blanc, produced as a single varietal or blended with Auxerrois Blanc, Pinot Gris and pinot noir. Auxerrois blanc is widely cultivated in Alsace and is described as a “full brother” of Chardonnay.
A recent tasting of Crémant d’Alsace sparkling wines revealed a variety of styles, from classic blanc de blancs to vibrant sparkling rosé. The crémant d’Alsace rosé must use 100 percent pinot noir grapes, which invites comparisons with the rosé versions of pinot noir in California.
The Lorentz family, for over 160 years, has produced some of the region’s most widely distributed wines, available in over 50 countries. Composed exclusively of Pinot Noir grapes, the Gustave Lorentz Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé ($ 25) is fresh, lively and offers a variety of subtle fruit nuances on the palate.
Domaine Alfred Mann, guided by biodynamic agriculture with the best organic practices, has the reputation of conserving low-yielding grapes which result in the maturity and richness of their wines. the Alfred Mann Crémant d’Alsace Extra Dry Brut 2016 ($ 24), a blend of pinot blanc, auxerrois blanc and pinot noir, is dry and sour, giving off remarkable aromas and fruit flavors in a rich texture.
Centennial, Domaine Valentin Zusslin, now run by two generations of the family, was converted in 1996 into biodynamic viticulture. the Zusslin Crémant d’Alsace Brut Zero Sans Souffre ($ 25) is produced without sulfur or added sugar per dosage.
I found a unique bouquet of citrus and toast followed by vibrant acidity and sweet citrus notes.
A well-rated sparkling rosé priced under $ 20, the Allimant Laugner Crémant d’Alsace Rosé ($ 18) offered the most expressive aromas and the most intense fruity flavors of any wine tasted. Pie with strong strawberry notes, reviewer Jancis Robinson, describing the wine, said it was “not very complex, but there is so much delicious fruit that you care?”
Receiving reviews in the mid-1990s, the Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rose ‘(24 $) expressed notes of ripe apple on the nose and palate and was balanced with a crunchy and creamy mouthfeel.
While Crémants from Alsace and other French regions are produced with the same method, they offer high quality sparkling wines at a fraction of the cost of French champagne.
Lyle W. Norton is an avid wine enthusiast and blogger who has written a wine column for 20 years. He integrates wine into his passion for travel and tries to take his readers on the journey. Visit his blog at lifebylyle.com.