The wine list: Crémant creating a sparkle in France
Sparkling wines set the scene for any celebration on any scale, but are equally ideal for an intimate twosome.
France excels at producing wines effervescent with millions of bubbles and some of the finest in the world are made in the Champagne region.
However, the same exalted and technically complex traditional method for making wines sparkle is used in seven other Appellation Controlee regions throughout France. Often, the AC region is prefixed by Crémant and local grapes are used. The wines are aged for a minimum of nine months on the lees for a subtle bready or yeasty autolytic character. Food matches include sushi, oysters and most shellfish, lightly sauced or dressed. Or serve simply with a strawberry for a romantic aperitif.
Here are the best Crémants from a blind tasting of 20.
1) Sparkling Burgundy Chardonnay, 12pc
Honeyed aromas of ripe golden apples. A classy palate with attractive yeasty notes and lingering flavours of brioche.
€20.49 at Marks & Spencer nationwide
2) Chateau Montcontour 2010, Vouvray 12pc
Nutty bouquet with lanolin typical of mature Chenin Blanc. A richer style with a refreshing lemony finish.
€18.99 at Marks & Spencer nationwide
3) Bruno Sorg, Crémant d'Alsace 12pc
Aromatic with lemon and pear drops. A trinity of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris delivers a delicious palate of lemon curd on brioche.
€22 at frenchwines.ie
4) Bouvet Saphir 2011, Saumur 12.5pc
Elegant, lean and dry with a toasty echo on the finish.
€23.95 available from jnwine.com
5) Langlois-Chateau, Crémant de Loire 12.5pc
The Chenin Blanc supported by Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc provides a depth and breadth of pithy citrus flavours joined by green apple and freshly baked baguette.
€23.99 at O'Brien's Fine Wines nationwide
6) Domaine Saint-Rémy, Crémant d'Alsace 12.5pc
Made from organically grown grapes. The vineyard is echoed in the mineral highlights with barley water and a softer style of acidity.
€24.99 at Wines on the Green, Dawson Street and McCabe's, Blackrock.
7) Elégance, Jean Babou, Blanquette de Limoux 12pc
Arresting toasty bouquet mirrors a rich toasty palate refreshed with green apple.
€25.99 at No. 21 Off-licences in Midleton, Blarney and Ballincollig. Donnybrook Fair, Dublin 4.
8) Cuvée Prestige, Muré, Crémant d'Alsace 12.5pc
Fragrant with freshly baked brioche aromas. Mouth-filling mousse, classic, fresh and lemony with a toasty finish.
€28.99 in Dublin at Mitchell & Son, CHQ, IFSC and Glasthule.
Learn and taste the difference amongst natural, biodynamic and organic wines. Meet wine producer Caro Feely at L'Atitude 51, Cork, Friday, February 20, at 7pm (€15 includes canapés paired with the wines, email@example.com), or in Dublin, Friday, February 27, at 5pm at Clontarf Wines (free but booking in advance is strongly recommended, email Ronnie at firstname.lastname@example.org).