Wine Words: Crémant

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Crémant is a wine word that you see on some sparkling wine labels. Do you know its origin? And, what Crémant means?

Crémant is a word that describes a certain type of French sparkling wine. Crémant wines are not made all over France but only made in certain officially designated areas.

The word Crémant actually originated in the Champagne region. It was used to designate sparkling wines made in Champagne that were less effervescent than ‘fully sparkling’ Champagne. Champagne wines have 5-6 bars of atmospheric pressure whereas Crémant wines typically had less than 4 bars of atmospheric pressure.

Since 1985 it is no longer associated with Champagne – though one Champagne house (Mumm) continues to make a Crémant style wine as well as Champagne.

In 1985, in an agreement that ended the use of the term ‘methode champenoise’ by producers of non-Champagne sparkling wines, Champagne agreed to give up the term Crémant. From 1985 on the word Crément would designate sparkling wines from other French regions made using the traditional ‘second fermentation in bottle’ method.

Today there are seven such designated Crémant AOC regions in France. These are Crémant d’Alsace, Crémant de Bordeaux, Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant de Die, Crémant du Jura, Crémant de Limoux and Crémant de Loire.

While each Crémant AOC has its own specific rules concerning permitted grape varieties and maximum yields, all seven AOCs share the following common regulations:

  • Grapes must be hand-harvested
  • Grapes may be whole bunch pressed or they may be destemmed
  • The quantity of must obtained from the pressed grapes cannot exceed 100 liters for every 150 kg of grapes;
  • The second fermentation (prise de mousse) must occur in bottle
  • While Crémant wines follow the same sweetness and dosage parameters as Champagne the finished wines cannot exceed a dosage of more than 50g/l sugar.
  • Crémant wines must age for at least 9 months on the lees before being disgorged, and then an additional three months before release to the market

Of the seven AOCs, Crémant d’Alsace is by far the largest, accounting for about 50% of all Crémant production. Crémant de Die and Crémant du Jura can only produce white wines. All the others can be white or rosé.

Crémant wines are a delicious and great value alternative to Champagne.

(Image credits: Sadovnikova Olga/Shutterstock)

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Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW (Master of Wine), is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant. In 2012 she was honored as a Dame Chevalier de L'Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne.

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