Crémant d'Alsace or Champagne ?
Synonymous with parties and celebrations, sparkling wine is often served as an aperitif with family or friends, or as a dessert. Among the great variety of sparkling wines on an international scale, there are two production areas in France: champagne and sparkling wine. We help you understand more clearly and understand the main differences between these two special drinks.
Terroir: The first difference between champagne and sparkling wine
The main difference between sparkling wine and champagne is the origin of the region in which it is produced. Both have an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC ) and their production is highly regulated.
Champagne cannot be produced exclusively in Champagne, its terroir is clearly defined by the region.
On the other hand, sparkling wine can be produced in 8 French wine regions: Bordeaux, Alsace, Burgundy, Jura, Dee, Limoux, Loire and Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
The Crémant d'Alsace has had an AOC since 1976. Crémant d'Alsace is made from grape varieties grown in the AOC Alsace region, notably in the communes of Barr, Bennwihr and Eguisheim. Ingersheim, Riquewihr, Wintzenheim and Katzenthal. Sparkling wines labelled "Crémant d'Alsace" must be bottled in Alsace.
Grape varieties used in Crémant d'Alsace and in Champagne
In Champagne, three grape varieties dominate: Pinot Noir, Meunier and Chardonnay. Pinot Noir and Meunier are black grape varieties that can be used to make white champagne, just like rosé. Indeed, to make rosé champagne, these grapes are macerated to bring color to the wine. Other grape varieties are also authorized, but they represent less than 0.3% of the vineyard: Arbane, Petit Meunier, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris.
In Alsace, the list of authorized grape varieties for this sparkling wine is wider: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Chardonnay can be used to produce Alsace sparkling wines. Note that if the Crémant is made from a single grape variety, the grape variety must be indicated on the Crémant bottle.
It is often not easy to tell the difference between sparkling wine and champagne, either from their appearance or from the tasting process. In fact, they can be very similar.
In fact, they are all made according to the méthode champenoise. To respect the terroir of the Champagne region, this is called the "traditional method" of Crémant.
traditional method or méthode champenoise
After the first fermentation in the vat, the liqueur (sugar and yeast solution) is added to the cuvée before bottling.
This will allow a second fermentation in the bottle thanks to the yeasts. The sugar provided by the liqueur is transformed into alcohol and carbon dioxide is produced. This is called blistering.
The sparkling wine is then aged on laths for several times. For Champagne, the aging period is at least 12 months. For Crémant d'Alsace, generally between 9 and 12 months.
This more complex brewing, associated with the choice of grape varieties, could explain the difference in taste when tasting Champagne compared to sparkling wine.
Champagne is considered an exceptional luxury wine, so it commands a higher price than sparkling and other wines. The price of grapes is more important in this region. The price of a bottle of champagne ranges from 15 euros to over 100 euros for the most prestigious.
As for the Crémants d'Alsace, you can find them at different prices. From a few euros a bottle to about 20 euros. There are many quality sparkling wines at very affordable prices. Some of our sparkling wines have also been awarded and recognized for their finesse. In 2016, our Crémant Grand Prestige Rosé 2014 reached the podium of the international competition for the best sparkling wine in the world. The success story of Crémants d'Alsace Bestheim continues to be written every day...