Cremant, Blanquette and Clairette… Sparkling wines with growing success24-01-2017
The continued ascent of Cremant wines
Produced across France, the sheer diversity of Cremant wines results from the combined effect of a single production method and the distinctive climate and grape varieties of each region, which in turn create its distinguished character.
There are 7 official Cremant wines in France: Cremant d’Alsace, Cremant de Bourgogne, Cremant de Bordeaux, Cremant de Die, Cremant du Jura, Cremant de Limoux and Cremant de Loire. Cremants are made using the “traditional method”.
The Cremant market in France is generally performing well and according to the Federation of Cremant wines, sales topped 80m bottles in 2015. With its fruity style, it is particularly good on its own or with seafood. Exports account for almost 21% of total sales of Cremant d’Alsace.
Cremant wines from the Loire, from Anjou, Saumur and Touraine, together with an extended family of Loire sparklers, offer a wide choice of appellations to discover, including Anjou Fines Bulles and Saumur Brut. Cremant de Bordeaux may not enjoy the same notoriety as other prestigious appellations in the region, but is definitely worth a mention and has seen 2-digit growth over the last two years.
Cremant de Bourgogne is arguably the sparkler seeing the greatest performance in recent years. In just a decade, 2003-2013, sales have seen a 125% uplift, soaring from 7.9m to 17.7m bottles. It is an unexpected success story for a product adopted as a symbol of local Burgundy winemaking culture.
Blanquette and Clairette: a great match with shellfish and meat dishes alike or even chocolate desserts
The regions of Blanquette in Limoux in the Aude and Clairette in Die, in the Drome, also produce Cremant using the traditional method and a more complex blend of grape varieties. Blanquette de Limoux is a sparkling wine with its own AOC in its region of production in the Aude, 25km from Carcassone. This sparkling can be enjoyed throughout a meal; the Brut version makes a great match to authentic regional dishes such as Cassoulet, while the demi-sec works brilliantly with chocolate desserts. Blanquette de Limoux continues to do well in France with more than 6m bottles sold in 2015. Like all great white wines, Limoux whites are best served at 10°C and make an excellent partner for shellfish, fish, foie gras and certain cheeses that err naturally towards white wines, such as dry goats’ cheese, vieux Cantal and sheep cheese from the Pyrenees.
Red wines from Limoux, best served at 17°C, marry well with grilled meats when young, while the older wines prefer richer, slow-cooked meat dishes.
Clairette de Die is currently experiencing a surge in popularity in France, notably given its reputation as the perfect sparkling wine to accompany the almond-based galette des rois cake traditionally enjoyed in France in January. In addition, the 300 growers responsible for its production have recently received the good news that they will soon be able to produce Clairette de Die rosé sparkling wine.