Crémant & Champagne – do you know the difference?

Watched a very interesting French documentary this morning that goes into the detail behind Crémant versus Champagne.  Do you know what the differences are?

First and most importantly, Champagne is an appellation – it comes from a specific geographic location that is protected by law.  Sparkling wines that come from other regions of France and indeed the world, are not Champagne.

The Loire is the biggest producer of sparkling wine outside of Champagne and makes high quality wines from different grape varieties but using the same method, now called the Traditional Method.

So what makes Champagne so expensive?  Well one of the biggest reasons is the price of grapes.  A kilo of grapes in Champagne can cost around 6€ – around 3 times the cost of a kilo of grapes here in the Loire.  Then there’s the time spent ageing on the yeast deposit in the cellar before being released to the market.  In Champagne the minimum is 15 months whereas here in the Loire it’s 12 months.  And then of course, it’s all to do with marketing.

You can find a wine here that has been aged for 6 years on its yeast deposit for around 18€ a bottle.  Unbeatable value for money in comparison with a similar product from Champagne.

Do a little taste test yourself.  Buy a few bottle of Crémant and one or 2 Champagnes and hold a little blind tasting with a few friends.  You might just be surprised at the results, especially if you stick to a similar budget for both wines.  Put a Champagne that costs 12 euros against a Cremant at the same price and then again at the 15€ price point.

To watch the documentary (in French) follow the link.

A few favourite Loire Crémant producers of ours just for the record are:

Leduc-Frouin – amazing value, beautifully clean and fresh, perfect aperos

Langlois Chateau – Quadrille (the top of the range Crémant) is delightfully toasty and elegant

Bouvet-Ladubay – now back in family hands and making consistently good wines at very attractive prices

Arnaud Lambert – look out for his tiny production of 1948 created in hommage to his dad Yves that had always dreamt of making a top sparkler

Chateau des Vaults – using Chenin from the vineyards of Savennières – lovely complexity