If the bottles pictured above were mid-priced champagnes, together they’d be worth over a thousand dollars. But these are bottles of cremant, roughly valued at $250.00. Much more my speed.
Cremant is basically a sparkling wine made in the traditional “method champenoise” manner. The only thing that separates a cremant from champagne is the origin of the grapes (in order to qualify as champagne, the grapes must be from the Champagne region of France). And the price, of course.
There are all sorts of sub-categories, like “Cremant de Loire, Jura, Bourgougne, Alscace and Limoux. Some are called Vouvrays, some are called Blanquettes. But if it says “method traditional” on the bottle, you know you’ve got the closest thing you can get to real champagne at a fraction of the price.
So I get to thinking: there’s got to be one or two cremants that rival fine champagne. A cremant that, in a pinch, I can pour into an empty Dom Perignon or Kristal bottle and pass it off as the real deal.
I must find them.
There are a lot of cremants out there and I have my work cut out for me. I begin collecting bottles of cremants. Once I have 20, I gather a qualified international panel of experts for the first annual Degustation des Cremants, Antibes 2014.
My distinguished international panel:
Vlad Bertin Roudenko
Vlad hails from Paris. He is French with Russian ancestry (nobility, of course). Vlad’s life experiences have been limited to consuming only the finer things in life. His dream is to someday eat a bucket of chicken nuggets in boxers while watching crappy television. He considers tasting faux champagne with the bourgeoisie a step in the right direction.
Romain E. Lix
Elegance is Romain’s middle name. He was born in the country that REALLY brought us French fries and Hercule Poiroit (Belgium). You know Romain possesses impeccable taste and refinement just by looking at him. And if that’s not enough to prove it, he’s gay.
Joc owns and operates one of Antibes’ finest dining establishments, Miam Miam, 1 Rue Vauban, Antibes, Currently rated #7 out of 433 restaurants in Antibes on TripAdvisor.
Angela is an American from Texas. I know what you’re thinking; how could an American from Texas (the state that brought us George Bush) have any discernment whatsoever? To that, she answers, “shut up or I’ll blow your brains out!” Just kidding. Believe me, she’s a culinary explorer with very discerning tastes. Proof? She always orders what I do at restaurants.
He is a brewer and connoisseur of fine beer. I figured, beer/champagne, what’s the difference? They’re both bubbly and get you drunk. Clearly his input is invaluable. Also, he is the only one in attendance who knows how to open a champagne bottle.
Originally from Lebanon, Michel is not a terrorist. In fact, his background is Catholic, which means he knows his wine. Very, very well. On the culinary front, he can down a pound of Haribo gummy tarantulas in less than an hour.
Virginie is French, thus her knowledge of wine-based beverages is a birthright.. She is beautiful, discerning with impossibly refined taste. Except in men.
Tomislav Jonjic (the man, not the dog)
From the burgeoning Croatian food and wine destination, Istria, Tom knows his stuff. He also claims to be an expert vinar, stručnjak za hranu, gurman, hortikulturista, renomirane hrana kritičar i srce kirurg. We’ll just have to take his word for it.
The tasting. Notes, comments, scores:
Everyone gets a list of the cremants in order to score (1-10, 10 is the best) and make comments anonymously. My notes, the comments and scores follow.
Bottle #1: Louis Bouillot Perle de Vigne Grand Reserve Brut Cremant de Bourgogne. 2011.
Comments: “fruity but dry”, “really quite good” “excellent, fruite” “buttery sparkling chardonnay” “This pleases me” “not bad for less than 10 Euro”
Scores: from 8.5-10
Bottle #2: Arthur Metz Brut Millesime 2011 Cremant d’Alsace
My notes: This bottle exploded all over the place when Adam opened it. I didn’t shake it, I swear!. We already hate this bottle
Comments: “appley” “bitter, flat,” “meh,” The name sounds like an accountant: Arthur Metz CPA. flat and lifeless. Less bubbly (said one kind soul). “Sans ebulliance. Triste.”
Scores: from 3-8 (8????? Wtf)
Bottle #3: Patriarche Pere & Fils Brut Cremant de Bourgogne
Comments: “Average”, ” “c’est normal” “comme ci comme ca,” “I’ve already forgotten it” “You call this cremant?”, ” Not the worst thing I’ve ever tasted”. “a bubbly glass of hope that dissolves into disappointment.”
Bottle #4: Bouvet Saphir Saumer Brut Vintage 2011
My notes: Vlad says he has crossed from tipsy to drunk.
Comments: “Hey, this is pretty good!”, “She, she, she!!!” , “deeeeeeeelish!”, “why yes, I’ll have another”, light with just the right balance of fruit and dry”
Bottle #5: Veuve d’Argent Chardonay Brut
My notes: Talking about Lebanon and the Middle East. Michel says some people only know Lebanon for hummus and terrorism,
Comments: “deeeeelish!” “Fraiche,” “Dry with a nice hint of berry,” “subtle, refreshing, nice lively bubbles”, “I don’t even LIKE hummus. fuck them!”
Scores: From 6-8.5
Bottle #6: La Cave de Reine Jeanne Brut Cremant de Jura
My notes: Joc tells us that Jura is the region where Comte cheese comes from.
Comments: “comte, wine>crap”, ” Puppies!!!!! ” “Deeelish!” What is this shit?” “She, she she!”, “they should stick to cheese”, “tastes like loneliness.”
Bottle #7: Wolfberger Brut, Cremant d’Alsace
Comments: “appley, average” “mushymushymush,” “deeelish!”, “bitter. Like me,” “promising dry appley start with a bitter aftertaste.” ” Milk, coffee, toilet paper” and something in Arabic.
Bottle #8: Wllm Brut, Cremant d’Alsace.
My notes: Michel! Pants!
There are only two comments on this one: “huh?” and “deeeeeeeeelish!”
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