This month’s Winophiles theme is biodynamic wines of France. The full practice and rationale behind biodynamic is complex and worthy of a full post on its own. The quick version is that it is one of the oldest forms of sustainable organic agriculture. It was developed by Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s in response to a group of farmers who were disappointed by the new commercial farming methods. Steiner himself is a problematic character – he was, like many of his time, an open racist and anti-Semite and some of his writing about ideas of “purity” of the land are pretty uncomfortable to read today. However, his work has gained a wide following and as the consumer has developed an interest in putting their money where their values are these types of practices are becoming much more common and mainstream. (more…)7 Read More
When my friends and fellow French Winophiles settled on “A French-Style Season” for December’s theme, my mind automatically wandered back to the fantastic holidays Dan and I have spent in Provence. From wandering through the old Papal palace in Avignon on Christmas Day (yes, it’s open!) to Christmas markets in Aix, Provence is a fantastic place to spend the holidays. France does the festive season very, very well. And they (of course!) eat and drink wonderfully over the season. Provence has a very special meal they do on Christmas Eve, so we recreated it at home so we could enjoy the memories. Sadly we don’t have any Christmas markets, but with a little creativity and a few bottles of good Provencal wine, we were able to conjure the sound of the mistral blowing against our shutters in Avignon or the sound of the surf and the feeling of the sand in Nice.12 Read More
I want to thank everyone who participated this month. There are some fantastic posts up about Crémant and some recipe ideas that I’ve added to the list to try. Enjoy:
Jill Barth: A Festival of French Crémant
Susannah Gold: French Cremant – Perfect Sparklers for the Holiday Season
David Crowley: Best Food Pairings for Crémant d’Alsace
Martin Redmond: Elevating Weeknight Fare with Cremant d’Alsace #Winophiles
Jane Niemeyer: How to Pair Crémant d’Alsace and Food
Gwendolyn Alley: Crémant Rosé: 4 Affordable Food-Friendly Beauties for #winophiles
Rupal Shankar: Five Reasons to Drink Crémant d’Alsace this Holiday Season will be writing “Five Reasons to Drink Crémant d’Alsace this Holiday Season”
And of course, our post for the event is here0 Read More
So I’m just going to put this out there – I love sparkling wine and Americans simply don’t drink enough of it. We have this idea that sparkling wine is fussy, expensive and only for celebration. None of those things need to be true. That’s why I was so excited not only to participate in this month’s #Winophiles exploration of Crémant wines, but also to host the chat on Twitter. One of my missions in life is to get people to realize that sparkling wine is great for every day drinking. Crémant is a great choice for a sparkling wine that you can open any time. It’s made in a variety of styles, it’s very well-available in the US and it’s a great quality-to-price option for a sparkling wine.
It’s also a remarkable style of wine to pair with food. To celebrate Crémant, Dan and I planned a meal around several bottles (including a ringer, but I’ll get to that in a minute). The point of the meal was to explore Crémant with a variety of different types of food. It was also to give us a chance to revisit our memories from our trip this summer. (more…)14 Read More
Crémant is an interesting creature. It’s a style of wine that is produced across France and it is governed by two sets of regulations, first the regulations that govern the Crémant style of wine, and then second by the regulations which cover each Crémant AOC. There are 7 regions of France which are permitted to produce Crémant under AOC rules. Crémant d’Alsace, Crémant de Bordeaux, Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant de Die, Crémant du Jura, Crémant de Limoux and Crémant de Loire. Alsace is by far the most common region, and it’s easy to find in the US. It also produces the most (over 50%) of all Crémant production. It differs from a traditional AOC in France because it is not geographically located, and each region is permitted slight variations in the types of grapes allowed. There are three things all Crémant wines will have in common: they are produced using a designated method, the grapes are hand-harvested and are subject to limitations on the amount of juice extracted, and they must age on the lees 9 months prior to disgorgement and then an additional 3 months in bottle prior to being released. The cépage of each region is designated locally, but most regions permit (and some require) the use of grapes other than the three permitted in Champagne.
Crémant wines are legally only white or rosé. There are red sparkling wines produced throughout France, including in the Crémant AOC regions but they are properly called Mousseaux rather than Crémant. (more…)2 Read More
Just a little teaser ahead of our Twitter chat this week. The #Winophiles are taking on Crémant and we have a bunch of really cool looking posts coming up ahead of the chat. I’ll update this with links to their actual posts as they go live, but here’s a preview of what we’re drinking and thinking about this week as we prep for the chat on Saturday.
Liz Barrett from What’s In That Bottle is writing “Affordalicious Alsace: Best Bubbles for the Buck”
Jill Barth from L’Occasion will show us “A Festival of French Crémant”
Robin Renken from Crushed Grape Chronicles will publish “A Sparkling Rosé by any other name…just might be a Crémant”
Camilla Mann will talk about a tasting pairing, Lingcod, Legumes, and Domaine Mittnacht Frères Crémant d’Alsace on her blog Culinary Adventures with Cam.
Susannah Gold from avivinare.com will share her post “French Cremant – Perfect Sparklers for the Holiday Season” Susannah is also on Twitter @vignetocomm and Insta: @vignetocomms)
Martin Redmond will be “Elevating Weeknight Fare with Cremant d’Alsace” at the Enofylz Wine Blog
Nicole Ruiz Hudson’s post on SommsTable.com will be “Crémants for Going Out and Staying In”
Wendy Klik of A Day in the Life on the Farm is writing “Rustic Elegance; Fall Vegetable Soup paired with Cremant” which sounds perfect for Thanksgiving!
Jane Niemeyer will teach us “How to Pair Crémant d’Alsace and Food” at alwaysravenous.com
Payal Vora’s post at Keep the Peas will be called “Crémant d’Alsace: More Than Just A Sparkling Wine”
Lauren Walsh from The Swirling Dervish will “Add a Little Sparkle to Your Holiday with Crémant d’Alsace”.
Jeff Burrows will be pairing “Elegant Crémant de Bourgogne Served with Lobster Two Ways” at foodwineclick.com
Gwendolyn Alley from winepredator.com is going to be looking at Crémants from a variety of regions in her post this weekend.
David Crowley from cookingchatfood.com will be discussing the “Best Food Pairings for Crémant d’Alsace”
Rupal Shankar the Syrah Queen will be giving us “Five Reasons to Drink Crémant d’Alsace this Holiday Season”
Neil will be joining us from Eat, Live, Travel, Write with a post entitled “Champagne taste but not a Champagne budget? An exploration of France’s Crémant wines”
And of course, we’ll have a few posts up related to this event, too. Look for both a travel and a food post on Saturday and don’t forget about our Twitter chat which starts at 11am EST. Follow us under the hashtags #winophiles and join the conversation.0 Read More
It seems like yesterday that we were talking rose and barbecue and thinking about summer vacations. Hard to believe that we’re already barreling towards the holiday season. However, the holidays always mean an excuse to break out some excellent food and wine to toast the season, give thanks with friends and family and celebrate. While everyone knows that I’m always up for opening a bottle of Champagne, my bank balance doesn’t always agree. This is where Crémant comes in.
Simply put, Crémant is sparkling wine that comes from France but does not come from the Champagne region. Many of them are made with the same complex method and even sometimes with the same grapes. They’re very high quality wines, but they often come at a good value when compared to Champagne. Several appellations in France have granted AOC status to their Crémant wines:
Crémants can range from bone dry to slightly sweet. They can be made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay or other local grapes and they can come, as the map above shows, from all over France. They’re fun, fantastic wines that are readily available in the US, especially at this time of year.
As you can see, Crémant is a subject well worth exploring and, on Saturday, November 17th, the Winophiles will do just that. Individually, each participating blogger will pursue a thread of particular interest – perhaps Crémant de Jura made from Chardonnay and Savagnin or a crisp Crémant de Bourgogne. I know that I’ll be looking at Crémant de Loire and posting some photos from our time there in August.
We will be publishing the blog posts on the evening of the 16th or early morning on the 17th. On the 17th, I’ll be hosting a Twitter chat at 11 am ET, under the hashtag #Winophiles. The chat will last for one hour and I’ll cover broad range of topics including food and wine pairings, travel stories, and tasting notes.
Want to participate? You’re welcome to! the more the merrier, and it’s easy to participate. Here’s how:
If you have any questions regarding the topic or about the Winophiles group in general, please let me know. In the meantime, pop open a bottle of Crémant and start the holiday season a little early. Give thanks to the vignerons of France for creating such lovely wines for us to enjoy and then plan a party with your friends and share the love.
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How is it possible that one of the oldest wine areas in France is also one of its least known? Lirac is located in the département de Gard, near Nimes at the most southern end of the Rhone Valley. It produces red, white and rosé wines which are often very delicate but still well-structured. This area of France is a great place to visit. Nimes is a vibrant city with a very long history and many overlapping cultures. The wines here are approachable and often very well priced because it is relatively unknown. (more…)7 Read More