^ Dopff & Irion's Blanc de Blancs Brut NV took home a Silver medal
While the Champenois would have you believe that no other sparkling wine exists in France, you’ll find top-quality fizz in pretty much every wine-producing part of the country. And the majority of it is known as Crémant.
Crémant is made using the ‘traditional method’, just like Champagne, but it is much cheaper, typically less than half the price. But don’t be fooled into thinking that Crémant is just generic cut-price fizz; it’s made in eight regions across France, and always with grape varieties particular to that region.
So, in Alsace, you’ll find Pinot Blanc and Riesling; in Burgundy, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (the two stars of Champagne); and down in Limoux in the Languedoc, where many believe sparkling wine originated, it’ll be Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and local favourite Mauzac.
Indeed, our list of IWSC award-winners contains Crémants from a trio of French regions, including Bordeaux, the source of Louis Vallon’s delightfully elegant and floral Rosé Brut NV, made with Merlot and a touch of Cabernet Franc and Malbec.
The past five years has seen a big upsurge in interest with Crémant, as drinkers look for better-value alternatives to Champagne, and sparklers that offer more character than all-conquering Prosecco. Wine writer Olly Smith describes Crémant as ‘prestige for pennies’, and while that might be stretching the truth a touch, there’s no doubt that pound-for-pound, it is one of the best-value sparkling wines you’ll find.
Here is the pick of French Crémants from the IWSC 2020. Vive la différence!
Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Zero Dosage NV
Zippy acidity with aromas of apple, pear, honeysuckle and ginger. Evolving stone fruit on the palate leading you to nice, integrated acidity. 12% n/a in UK
Prestige Brut NV
Luscious stone fruit with ripe exotic fruit. Slightly yeasty autolysis which adds to the rich texture. Brioche and toasty palate which is enhanced by the bubbles and acidity. Elegant and fresh. 12% RRP £22 from directwineshipments
Premium Brut NV
Toasty, crisp apple, exotic fruit, brioche and sweet spice notes; crisp acidity, fine mousse, with a long, lingering finish. Evolving well in the bottle. 12.7% RRP £21 from Tannico
Victorine De Chastenay Extra Brut 2014
Cave des Hautes-Côtes
Nectarine and hints of an orange blossom and cream nose. Apricot, golden apple and honey open up on the palate with good acidity and minerality giving this wine lots of finesse. 12.5% n/a in UK
Blanc de Blancs Brut NV
Green apple and yeast on the nose with gentle spice coming into the palate. Layers of texture evolve and feels like it has age to it. Great freshness and texture. 12% n/a in UK
Blanc de Blancs Brut NV
Dopff & Irion
Tropical and exotic. White peach, floral and elegant spice blend to create a great palate with harmonious structure. Luscious, full flavours that carry the bubbles well. 12% RRP £13.99 from House of Townend
Rosé Extra Brut Zero Dosage NV
Dopff & Irion
Red fruits - cherries, berries and red apple - with beautifully balanced acidity. Fresh and concentrated, with quiet fizz and good length. 12% RRP £13.99 House of Townend
Perle d'Or Brut 2012
White peach, papaya and smoke evolve into gentle aromas of yoghurt and patisserie. Apple and citrus palate with touches of butter and toast, fresh acidity and well-defined bubbles. 12% n/a in UK
Rosé Brut NV
Intense aromas of delicate strawberries and lemon, with a hint of fresh iris flowers. Offers an elegant fruit salad experience on the palate and generous finish. 12% n/a in UK
Excellence Brut NV
Light intensity of aroma including brioche, lemon and stone fruits, with a luscious, lingering palate. Acidity and sweetness balanced to keep it fresh. 12% n/a in UK