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Put the Fizz into Life with Crémant de Bourgogne

As the popularity of sparkling wine at celebrations and receptions increases, so the sales of Crémant de Bourgogne grow. It now represents 10% of Burgundy wine-making, resulting in it being one of the most important appellations of Bourgogne in volume. In 2015, 17 million bottles were sold worldwide, 32% of which were exported, a huge increase in the last few years.

This is the sparkling version of Bourgogne wines. The Crémant de Bourgogne is, like the greatest effervescent wines, the product of a second fermentation in the bottle. The carbon dioxide thus captured gives them this sparkling character while at the same time preserving the characteristics of their terroirs. It is made according to the traditional ‘Champagne method’ or la méthode traditionnelle but retails much more reasonably in the shops.

Cremant de Bourgogne sparking wine from BurgundyThe Crémant de Bourgogne appellation covers a particularly large geographical region, extending from north to south and covering the Chablisien, Châtillonnais, Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise (principally Rully), Mâconnais and Beaujolais areas.

In fact it was in Rully, back in 1826 that the Petiot brothers made the first sparkling wines called ‘Fleur de Champagne’. It was a lightening success and other producers soon followed. Louis Bouillot has been producing the bubbly since 1877 in Nuits-St-Georges.

Crémant de Bourgogne can be made using several types of grape: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gamay ‘jus blanc’, Aligoté, Melon and Sacy. Each grape has its own distinctive taste and with skilful blending techniques, produces a definable style. Pinot Noir gives a richness and robustness, a Chardonnay brings the aromas of white blossom and toast. The Gamay recommends itself for its juiciness, vivacity and volume, Aligoté’s unique acidity increases the wine’s effervescence. Granted an appellation controllée in 1975, the four categories are as follows:

Le crémant de Bourgogne blanc
Minimum 30% Pinot Noir and/or Chardonnay producing a well balanced sparkling wine with a complex aroma

Le crémant de Bourgogne blanc de blancs
Made from the Chardonnay grape and Alogoté variety, this is a fresh and vivacious sparkling wine, ideal for apéritifs

Le crémant de Bourgogne blanc de noirs
From the Pinot Noir grape

Le crémant de Bourgogne rosé
Made from the Pinot Noir alone or with a little Gamay for a very fruity flavour

Eminent and Grand Eminent
Eminent and Grand Eminent Cremant de BourgogneIn March 2016 two further categories were added to these AOCs, 'Eminent' and 'Grand Eminent'.
'Eminent' must be aged on lees for a minumum of 24 months. 'Grand Eminent' has tighter restrictions which include the variety of the vine, the potential alcohol content
and aging time of 36 months or more.

Serve Crémant chilled at 8–9 degrees C or 47–49 degrees F, as a apéritif, or with the addition of Créme de Cassis for a Kir Royal. The rosé Crémant is particularly good with dessert.

How Cremant is made

Crémant de Bourgogne production is done according to la méthode traditionnelle, formerly known as la méthode champenoise.

The harvest is done by hand. The bunches are placed in crates pierced with drainage holes to ensure the grapes arrive intact at the press.

They are pressed slowly and several times, giving different qualities of juice, limited to 100 litres of wine for 150kg of harvested grapes, since only the first 100 litres can be called Crémant de Bourgogne. The maximum yield permitted is fixed at 78hl per hectare, or 11,700kg of grapes, offering potential alcohol of between 9- 11.5°.

The first press of the grapes is called the cuvée. This is what gives the structure to the wine: its body, sophistication and acidity. Then comes the taille, which brings the aromatic richness.

The base wines are fined and filtered. They are chilled and then the liqueur de tirage, a blend of wine and cane sugar syrup as well as carefully selected yeasts, is added before bottling.

The prise de mousse lasts a minimum of one month. During this period, the wine ferments in the bottle. The yeasts turn the sugars into alcohol (1.3% vol.), and in the process, produce carbon dioxide of up to five bars of pressure. The gas is dissolved in the wine which then becomes sparkling. The bottle is hermetically sealed with a bidule, a small plastic cup, and a crimped metal cap.

Then it is time for the wine to be matured sur lattes. During this period, the yeasts undergo autolysis. Once the sugars are consumed, the yeasts die and settle, thus giving both the aromatic complexity and the structure of the bubbles in the glass. This is why the maturation process lasts 12-15 months or longer, depending on the winemaker and the cuvée. At Louis Bouillot, the Nuits-St- Georges producer,  the most prestigious crémants, such as Perle d’Or and Les Grands Terroirs, are matured from between 3-6 years.

Next, the bottles undergo the riddling process, during which the neck of the bottle is gradually tilted downwards. This makes the deposits collect in the neck prior to disgorging. This operation involves removing the dead yeasts formed in the capsule in the neck of the upturned bottle.

Then, the dosage is added, according to a secret recipe that includes wine, cane sugar and sometimes a little eau-de-vie, to give the final, personal touch to the finished wine – the winemaker’s trademark.

The amount of sugar in the dosage determines the description on the wine label:
Brut Nature: no sugar added
Extra-Brut: < 6g sugar/litre
Brut: 6-12g sugar/litre
Extra-Sec: 12-20g sugar/litre
Sec: 17-35g sugar/litre
Demi-Sec: 33-50g sugar/litre
Doux: > 50g sugar/litre

The final stage is corking, followed by the wire closure and labelling

Watch the video on Youtube of the winemaking process

To Find Out More About Cremant

Veuve Ambal

Veuve Ambal, the largest producer of Crémant in Burgundy has a visitor centre at its headquarters in Beaune. There’s an interactive presentation with a film, information about production, and tastings. The audiovisual is available in five languages. Rue des Vignerons website is a free service where you book online, there's information about the visit, prices, map and directions, and you can buy the domaine's wine at a reduced price.

L'Imaginarium and Sacrée Vigne

A trip all the family will enjoy is Louis Bouillot’s L’Imaginarium in Nuits-St-Georges. This is a ‘visitor experience’ exploring sparkling wines of the world from virtual to actual tasting. It’s educational and fun for children and they can join in the tasting with a non-alcoholic version.
There are two presentations: The Magic of Bubbles and Sacrée Vigne which shows the history of the vineyard through the tools used over the centuries, presented with colour and light.

L'Imaginarium Nuits St Georges BurgundyThe Magic of Bubbles is open from 10.00 - 17.30 pm
Closed Monday mornings, 25th December and 1st January
Visits in French with audio guides available in English and German
Multi-sensorial screening room seats 60
The site has been certified “Tourisme et Handicaps” indicating that is accessible by people with reduced mobility and has audio guides for the hard of hearing.

“Adventure Trail” as part of the adventure for children aged
six and above.

L'Imaginarium Nuits St. GeorgesSacrée Vigne is open from 10.00 - 17.30 pm Closed Monday mornings, 25th December and 1st January
Starts every 20 minutes from 10am-5.30pm
Duration: 40 minutes
In English, German, Japanese

The Imaginarium - Avenue du Jura- 21700 Nuits-Saint-Georges - France Tel: +33 (0)3 80 62 61 40: Leave the A31 at Junction 1 for Nuits-Saint-Georges and turn left after the toll booth.


Pam Elson ©burgundytoday.com