Crack open the Crémant! It’s seen as champagne’s inferior cousin but as Waitrose sales rise by half, our expert reveals which of the sparkling wines have real fizz

In the effervescent world of sparkling wines, one style is finally having its moment — and it’s only taken a few centuries.

Crémant is a type of sparkling wine that’s crafted using the same in-depth, traditional method of winemaking used in champagne — and in some cases the same grapes — though it’s typically aged for less time.

Strict rules mean that only wine produced in the Champagne region can carry the famous moniker, yet some crémant vineyards sit right on Champagne’s doorstep.

Crémant gets its name from the French word ‘crème’, meaning creamy. It’s a wine term that was officially recognised in France back in 1975, though wines have been made in this style all over the country since the very beginning of the early 19th century – and before that in some places.

Since the rise of prosecco, which did a fabulous job of democratising sparkling wine, discerning drinkers have turned away from these sweet Italian bubbles and looked to a drier, more complex style of sparkling wine that tastes more like champagne but without the premium price tag – the kind that can be popped mid-week rather than awaiting a big celebration.

Crémant is a type of sparkling wine that’s finally having its moment – as sales in Waitrose rise by half (file image)

If you¿re looking to pop a bottle of budget fizz that still carries the sophistication of champagne, here are six cracking crémants to try (file image)

If you’re looking to pop a bottle of budget fizz that still carries the sophistication of champagne, here are six cracking crémants to try (file image)

Crémant has quietly stepped in to fill the gap (and the glasses) of those looking for quality, complexity – and superb value for money. 

For while a bottle of Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut NV will set you back £42.99, a bottle of Crémant d’Alsace is available for just £13.99. It’s no wonder that French drinkers have been trying to keep this secret to themselves.

It also makes you feel rather sophisticated and ‘in the know’ to say ‘crémant’ out loud — and who doesn’t love that?!

So it’s perhaps no surprise that while champagne sales are down, Waitrose is reporting that over the past three months sales of crémant are up by 51 per cent compared with the same period last year. It’s now overtaken sales of Spanish budget fizz Cava.

Traditional method wines such as crémant and champagne are extremely time-consuming to make as the bubbles are formed within the single glass bottles themselves during their secondary fermentation, rather than in large tanks like prosecco. They then need to undergo a minimum amount of ageing before they can be released. This method is what gives the fizz its classic, toasty, brioche notes, so it’s not just all about primary fruit flavours. Some are aged for a short time and some for a long time, and the flavour profile and the price will often reflect this.

Crémant is cheaper than champers because the nine regions in France and Luxembourg where it’s made don’t carry the same cachet for sparkling wines — and there’s much more produced. While most of them might not reach the heady heights of certain champagne brands, many of them aren’t far off!

There’s so much crémant to explore from across France and it can be made in rosé and demi-sec (slightly sweet) styles, too, so there’s something for everyone.

The nine regions to seek out for crémant wines are Alsace, Burgundy, the Loire Valley, Bordeaux, Limoux, Jura, Savoie, Luxembourg and a Rhone-style called Crémant de Die.

So, if you’re looking to pop a bottle of budget fizz that still carries the sophistication of champagne, here are six cracking crémants to try…

Simonnet Febvre Brut Crémant De Bourgogne

Simonnet Febvre Brut Crémant De Bourgogne

Simonnet Febvre Brut Crémant De Bourgogne

£15, Tesco

Crémant from Burgundy, in my opinion, is the style that’s closest to champagne, partly because it’s often just made with chardonnay — one of the champagne grapes — though there’s an extra splash of fruitiness. Enjoy drinking alone, or with salmon blinis. 3/5

Morrisons The Best Crémant De Limoux

Morrisons The Best Crémant De Limoux

Morrisons The Best Crémant De Limoux

£12.50, Morrisons

Limoux is one of the oldest regions for sparkling and predates champagne! These southern French belles have fabulous, concentrated fruit with melon and citrus flavours that can handle heavier, poultry dishes. 4/5

Prince Alexandre Crémant de Loire

Prince Alexandre Crémant de Loire

Prince Alexandre Crémant de Loire

£10.49, Waitrose

For those looking for higher, tart acidity with a touch of honey on the nose, Crémant de Loire, which often has a fair whack of the local chenin blanc grape, offers this in spades. A foodie crémant that can handle creamy dishes extremely well. 3/5

Louis Vallon Crémant De Bordeaux Blanc De Noirs

Louis Vallon Crémant De Bordeaux Blanc De Noirs

Louis Vallon Crémant De Bordeaux Blanc De Noirs

On offer at £13, Sainsbury’s

This cracking Bordeaux crémant looks as classy on the outside as it tastes. Made only with black grapes, which in this case are cabernet franc and merlot, this is a style with a pink tinge and tangy texture with notes of red apple skin, brioche and almonds. Try it with meat! 5/5

Marcel Cabelier Crémant du Jura Brut

Marcel Cabelier Crémant du Jura Brut

Marcel Cabelier Crémant du Jura Brut

£11.99 mix 6 price, Majestic

Jura crémant, while often made with chardonnay like in champagne, can offer a lovely, quirky point of difference when local savagnin and poulsard grapes are added. Light and frothy, these work well as aperitif wines. 3/5

Arthur Metz Crémant d’Alsace Organic Brut

Arthur Metz Crémant d¿Alsace Organic Brut

Arthur Metz Crémant d’Alsace Organic Brut

On offer at £12, Ocado

Alsace crémant can use pinot blanc, pinot gris and riesling grapes alongside the champagne grapes pinot noir and chardonnay — giving the wine a delicious, creamy softness. Perfect with cheesy canapés. 4/5

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