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
The Charmat Method is a method of making sparkling wines. In Italy, it is called the Metodo Martinotti, and on New World wines it may be described as the “tank method”. This method was developed by Eugene Charmat in Western France, but its most famous wine is the Italian Prosecco. Developing bubbles in stainless steel tanks, instead of on the lees in a bottle like Champagne, gives a crisper and fruitier wine.0 Read More
I can’t believe that it’s December already. But the tree is up and the holiday parties have already started. There’s no better time to take a look at Italian sparkling wines. Italy makes some really awesome sparkling wines which, like Crémant are generally available at a fraction of the price of Champagne.
Italian sparklers come in a range of styles from very sweet to very dry. The Italian word for sparkling, Spumante, is sometimes used on labels. Don’t just think Asti Spumante, though! The word spumante just means sparkling, it doesn’t imply anything about sweetness, so not all wines labeled as spumante will be sweet – quite the opposite.
There are five main styles of sparkling wine made in Italy. They are: Prosecco, Lambrusco, Franciacorta, Metodo Classico and Asti Spumante.
This month, I was specifically looking at wines that will pair well with holiday party foods, so I only sampled dry wines. Two of the wines I tried were made in the traditional or classico method. The other wine was produced using the charmat method. (more…)12 Read More
Gavi is a white wine appellation in the Piedmont region of Italy. Gavi is made 100% from Cortese grapes and is sometimes called Cortese di Gavi. It is named after the commune of Gavi in the center of the appellation, and wines from the commune itself can be labeled Gavi di Gavi. The Gavi appellation was given DOC status in 1975, and DOCG – the top of the Italian pyramid – in 1998. It is often considered the Piedmont’s premier white wine.0 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
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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Just in time for party prep stock-up shopping, here are five awesome wines for your Fourth of July party! We’ve got some suggestions for wines that go well with your cookout. If you’re cooking out for the 4th, you’ve got a big task ahead of you. Meat, sweet corn, creamy salads and tangy barbecued chicken are all yummy but really different in taste and texture but we’ve got you covered with these 5. Grab some wine, grab some friends and celebrate summer with these wines0 Read More