A Sparkling Holiday with Champagne and our Newest Favorite Sparkler Crémant

My name is Julie Gilles, a French native hailing from the region of Champagne and Maison de Grand Esprit (MDGE) Brand Ambassador. As we approach the holidays, I thought it would be a wonderful time to talk about our French sparkling wines!

French Sparkling Wines

Champagne is the king of sparkling French wine and a welcome guest at any celebration, especially when we gather with our loved ones to welcome in a new year. On my recent wine journeys through French wine country, I have noticed that Champagne’s little sister, Crémant, is enjoying a new-found popularity, and I am so excited! Crémant can transform simple occasions such as Sunday brunch or Tuesday sushi night into truly festive celebrations (and often at a significantly lower price point vs Champagne) !

Left: The Maison de Grand Esprit Bubbly Room, Hong Kong

So what is Crémant?

Champagne is the most prestigious of sparkling wines and can only be made in Northern France’s Champagne region. Crémants, often referred to as France’s best kept sparkling wine secret, can be made in France’s other wine regions including Bordeaux, Alsace and Bourgogne (aka Burgundy) just to name a few. All these regions are governed by rules to ensure quality standards and to preserve each regional character. They also represent some of the best value sparkling wines produced in the world today, expressing the specific terroir and traditions of the French regions from where they're sourced.

Crémants also come in a range of flavor styles but are generally more approachable than Champagne as they are lighter, floral, refreshing, and less austere with many being drier than Prosecco. As the name suggests, they can also have a lovely creamy texture.

Right: Crémant de Bourgogne, a wonderful alternative to Champagne

Crémant de Bourgogne

The first French region to be granted the Crémant status was Burgundy with “Crémant de Bourgogne” in 1975. The region now claims to have some of the strictest production rules in France including hand-harvesting whole grape bunches, the use of small boxes with perforated bottoms, and the same wine making protocols as Champagne (Méthode Traditionelle Champenoise). By regulation standards, Crémant ages for a total of 12 months before being released (compared to 15 months minimum in Champagne region), gathering texture and flavours from the yeast cells which are called lees.

Bourgogne (Burgundy) is located just south of the Champagne region and classic Crémants de Bourgogne even use the same grape varietals of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as Champagne, as well as other grapes that are typically permitted in Burgundy’s still wines such as Aligote and Gamay. The flexibility of Crémant de Bourgogne flavor profiles, whilst retaining the same strict quality assurance that exists in Champagne, is what makes a Crémant an impressive alternative celebratory go-to French wine.

Left: L’être Magique Crémant de Bourgogne about to be shared with friends.

Style & Drinking Occasions

With our Maison de Grand Esprit L’être Magique Crémant de Bourgogne, winemaker Sebastien Long demonstrates how great Crémant can be as an alternative to Champagne. Sebastien allows the delicate fruit aromas of Burgundy to shine through a careful assemblage of high quality grapes from different parts of Burgundy. Chardonnay (60%) gives the wine its liveliness with fresh acidity, Pinot Noir (20%) adds depth, structure and richness, and Gamay (20%) brings vivacity and fruitiness to result in a truly enjoyable French wine. As a non-vintage (NV) wine, Sebastien can maintain consistency of the house style each year by blending wines not only from different French regions and different grapes, but also different vintages (years).

Right: So inviting, it didn’t last very long!

Food Pairing with Crémant

While undoubtedly perfect to be enjoyed on its own, as I recently experienced myself watching the yachts coming in and out of Sanya Harbor on South China’s exotic Hainan Island, there are also many food matching options to enjoy.

If you fancy something salty, fatty or lightly fried such as dry-cured chorizo, jamón Serrano or Iberico, calamari or smoked salmon, the bubbles and natural acidity will cleanse your palate and prepare it for the next bite! What is my favorite occasion? A dinner at home with friends playing hip-hop tunes, savoring L’être Magique Crémant de Bourgogne’s creamy texture and acidity with homemade mushroom risotto or pizza. It is such a special indulgence, I’m pretty sure it has become my friends' favorite too!

My challenge to you for this holiday season is to share a bottle of L’être Magique Crémant de Bourgogne with your friends and family and discover your own favorite occasion!

Left: A relaxing afternoon on a hot sunny day? All occasions are perfect for Crémant.