Everyone’s heard of Champagne, right? Well, Easter is right around the corner and the UK is waking up to the fact that France has more sparkling wines to offer than just this age-old classic. Whilst Champagne has the reputation for being the epitome of class and sophistication, there’s far more to the sparkling wine category than just its renowned star player, and many wine-lovers are starting to champion the likes of Cava, Crémant, and even English sparkling wines. With Easter just around the corner, I’d recommend picking up a bottle of this vegan-friendly Crémant, available from Aldi. At only £8.29, this was a very impressive expression of vegan sparkling wine.
What is Crémant?
There are many rules in the wine world about what you can and can’t call a wine, or write on its bottle. Champagne, for example, can only be called Champagne if it is made from grapes grown in specific areas of the Champagne region in France. Only 3 grapes are permitted; Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. Champagne made from all three is called Brut, whilst those made from 100% Chardonnay are referred to as Blanc de Blancs (“white of whites”). Blanc de Noir, as you might guess, is made exclusively from the two permitted red grape varieties. Crémant (“craymont”) sparkling wines are made using the same method, but outside of the Champagne region, usually with different grape varieties, but often still Chardonnay. With less restriction on growing areas and grape varieties, Crémants arguably offer a far broader expression of French sparkling wines. Currently there are 8 Crémant designations in France (and one in Luxemborg), including Jura on the Swiss-French border, where this vegan sparkling wine from Aldi is made.
Crémant Tasting Notes
White Crémant du Jura wines must be made from at least 50% Chardonnay – this one is 100%- with the rest usually being Savagnin, Jura’s local grape, which has a similar character to Gewurtztraminer.
Jura Crémant tend to be delicate sparkling wines, offering fresh apple alongside some brioche or leesy (yeasty) notes. Pale lemon in colour, Aldi’s wine offers vibrant, medium-length bubbles, which don’t drop out immediately. Underlying the delightfully fresh floral nose are quite pronounced smells of doughy, half-baked bread. On the palate, there’s the classic apple, alongside baked pears, brioche, and a twist of freshly squeezed lemon.
Champagne For Less Money
Whilst you should treat Champagne with suspicion if it comes with a price tag below £10, Crémant is often cheaper – and this was also from a supermarket with a reputation for decent quality at discount prices. This was just £8.29. I was sceptical, having found the vegan wines from Aldi to be quite a mixed bag recently – but never judge a bottle before you open it! Better than Prosecco, and far, far better value than Champagne, this wine will suit anyone looking for the Champagne experience on a beer budget. It may not be the finest expression of Crémant du Jura available, but Aldi’s vegan-friendly bottle has certainly piqued my interest in discovering more about France’s quieter sparkling wine.
Crémant and Food
Aldi recommend this as an aperitif – something I would encourage, as it is very enjoyable on its own. But this is also a very solid springboard from which to experiment with vegan food pairings for blanc de blanc sparkling wines – Crémant as a rule must include at least 50% Chardonnay, regardless of appellation. Crémant du Jura wines that are labelled as floral will be fruity, and can stand up to richer, creamier dishes nicely. The bubbles and dry apple flavours cut through fried foods beautifully. Like many dry white wines, they also suit delicate dishes with vibrant vegetable flavours, such as salads and light pasta. When I buy my next Crémant du Jura, I’d like to pair it with linguine in a tofu-cream sauce, with lemon, peas, and asparagus.
Other Food Matches for Crémant
This wine is perfect for the Easter holidays. For my own take on the curious classic Champagne and fish and chips, this French sparkling wine was enjoyed with vegan fish and chips, with homemade tartare sauce! The recipe was taken from the Avante Garde Vegan cookbook, and is absolutely fantastic.
This forms part of my 3 course vegan meal with other sparkling wine pairings. Tasted alongside a Brut Champagne and a Spanish pink Cava, this supermarket Crémant held its own remarkably well alongside fried foods, creamy desserts, vegan smoked salmon and chocolate truffles.
For those celebrating, Happy Easter!