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WHAT IS CREMANT?
The term crémant describes one type of French sparkling wine, a relative of the famous Champagne. Crémant is a quality label - it is produced using traditional method in certain officially recognised areas. Unlike Champagne, which comes from only one French region (Champagne), crémant production is authorised in 8 French regions. However, crémant also originates in the Champagne region. This designation was once used for sparkling wines produced in Champagne, which were less effervescent than the 'fully sparkling' Champagne wines (Champagne usually has a pressure of 5-6 atmospheres, while crémant is usually less than 4).
Today, there are 8 regions in France that produce crémants with AOC (¨Appellations d'Origine Contrôlée¨, i.e. Protected Designation of Origin) , namely Crémant d'Alsace, Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant de Bordeaux, Crémant de Die, Crémant du Jura, Crémant de Savoie, Crémant de Limoux and Crémant de Loire.
Of the eight AOCs mentioned above, Crémant d'Alsace and Crémant de Bourgogne are by far the largest, accounting for around 80 % of total crémant production. Crémant de Die and Crémant de Savoie may only produce white wines; the other appellations produce white or rosé wines.
Although each Crémant appellation has its own specific rules on the varieties and maximum yields allowed, all eight appellations are subject to these common rules:
- Harvesting is always by hand.
- The grapes are pressed whole or may be de-stemmed.
- The quantity of must obtained by pressing may not exceed 100 litres of must per 150 kg of grapes.
- Secondary fermentation (prise de mousse) must take place in the bottle.
The crémants must be aged on the lees for at least nine months before being removed from the lees (dégorgement) and then for a further three months before being placed on the market
In 1985, an agreement was reached that producers from regions other than Champagne would no longer use the term 'méthode champenoise' and that Champagne producers would in turn renounce the name 'crémant'. From this year onwards, the word 'crémant' will refer to sparkling wine from French regions other than Champagne, but produced using the same method as Champagne. At the same time, the production of crémant is governed by the same parameters as for Champagne, except that the amount of sugar may not exceed 50 g/l.