Crémant might sound like some insanely expensive high-end yogurt made from yoga-practicing cows on Gwyneth Paltrow’s biodynamic farm. And it probably is. But it’s also wine, and that’s where we’re concerned. It’s sparkling wine, in fact, and useful to know about if you like your bubbly, or if you just wanna sound cool at a party.
So what is Crémant? Well, it’s two things. Originally, it referred to a certain style of sparkling wine produced in Champagne, with the “methode champenoise” second fermentation. Except that unlike classic Champagnes, Crémants were slightly less effervescent—around 1 bar of atmospheric pressure less, give or take. If you don’t enjoy your sparkling in terms of atmospheric pressure, think of it this way: Crémant literally means creamy, and that’s what the bubbles were. Less of a bracing caviar-pop and more of a soft velvety sparkle.
The meaning of Crémant evolved, however, to refer to any wine made with the secondary fermentation method of Champagne that wasn’t actually made in the Champagne region. Crémants can be made in seven regions in France: Crémant de Bordeaux, Crémant de Die, Crémant du Jura, Crémant de Limoux, Crémant d’Alsace, Crémant de Loire, and Crémant de Bourgogne. Crémant d’Alsace is by far the most prolific region, producing more than 50 percent of all French Crémant.
All Crémant regions have their own rules regarding production, but they all also adhere to a few common parameters (hand-harvesting, dosage limits, aging limits). But where Crémants get really interesting is the variety of grapes allowed. It varies from region to region, but Crémant can be made with more than the traditional Champagne trio of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay.
Quality varies, inevitably. But if you find a very good Crémant, there’s also a solid chance it costs a lot less than a similar Champagne. And that’s something worth toasting to. (We find a lot of reasons to toast to stuff.)