French Sparkling Wines

The Marne developed a rhetoric of French identity that promoted its own marketing success as national. This ability to mask local interests as national concerns convinced government officials of the need to protect champagne as a French patrimony.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that all sparkling wines can be classified as Champagne. While all Champagne is indeed sparkling wine, not all sparkling wine can be labeled Champagne according to French appellation laws. A sparkling wine’s terroir – that is, the geographic region where the grapes are produced – and production method are key factors in this distinction between French Champagne and all other sparkling wines.

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Cremants de Bourgogne

Historically, Chablis was one of the first locations in Burgundy at the beginning of the 19th century to make fine sparkling wines and was an important supplier of grapes to Champagne. Cremant de Bourgogne is known under four different names : white Cremant de Bourgogne, Cremant de Bourgogne whitest of whites, Cremant de Bourgogne whitest of reds, and Cremant de Bourgogne Rosé . In recent years, a new classification has been created for top Cremant de Bourgogne segmented into Eminent and Grand Eminent (for Crémant with an extended ageing period after the second fermentation of 24 months) and Grand Eminent (with an extended ageing of 36 months plus three months in bottle).  Louis Bouillot located between Dijon and Beaune, is the 3rd largest producer of Crémant de Bourgogne.

Cremants d’Alsace

Cremants d’Alsace is the French market leader in AOC sparkling wines outside of Champagne. It is made with the Methode Champenoise. It is generally produced using a single grape or a blend of several grape varieties (pinot blanc, riesling, pinot gris, chardonnay, auxerrois and pinot noir). Most Cremants are produced with Pinot Blanc, and Rosés with Pinot Noir.

Cremants de Loire

If you love Champagne you will love the sparkling and still wines in Vouvray. Vouvray is the largest white wine appellation of the Anjou-Saumur-Touraine region, and it produces excellent sparkling wines. With its natural inclination to ‘pearl’, Vouvray is obtains petillant wine using the champenoise method of fermentation and ageing the wine at 4 atmospheres of pressue.

Like in Champagne these sparkling wines are blended so you might find the minerality of Chenin, the finesse of Chardonnay and the structure of Cabernet Franc in a single bottle from the terroir of Vouvray and Chinon. Situated just across the Loire river from Vouvray is Montlouis-sur-Loire, which also makes dry, demi-sec, sweet and sparkling wines from 100% Chenin Blanc. Where the wines of Vouvray are fruity and floral, Montlouis-sur-Loire tends to reflect some of the more earthy and mineral notes of Chenin Blanc.

Sparkling Reds

During the 19th century, Nuits-St Georges and Gevrey-Chambertin specialised in sparkling red wine, and by the 1820s, a million bottles of red Bourgogne Mousseux were sold annually in France. In 1860, Napoleon III and Empress Eugenia stopped for several nights in Dijon and were presented with a case of wines, which included a sparkling red Burgundy. By 1943, they obtained the AOC "Bourgogne Mousseux", which designated white, red, and rosé wines produced by second fermentation in the bottle. In 1975, the AOC Cremant de Bourgogne was created only for white or rosé wines. 

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