The best crémant under £15

What’s the best route to a sparkling wine that tastes a lot like champagne, with that nice balance of freshness and richer, more exquisite layers of cream, biscuit and toast, but under around £15? The answer is definitely not prosecco, which, while a fun party pop, is made in vats and released young, rather than bottle-aged on its lees (yeast sediment), as champagne.

No, for that you will need a crémant.

Crémant is the French term for a sparkling wine made by the traditional bottle aging method from designated grapes, but in regions other than Champagne. So there are crémants from Alsace and the Jura in the east, from Limoux in the south-west, from Die in the Rhône. The most famous wine regions like Bordeaux, Burgundy and Loire also produce crémant.

They don’t all taste the same, and a lot of that is down to the different grapes used in each region. Very acidic Chenin Blanc is often an important part of Crémants de la Loire while Alsace can use Pinot Blanc and Riesling. Deliciously fresh and appetizing, for the most “champagne” crémants, choose those that use two of the Champagne grape varieties, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Crémant de Bourgogne (Burgundy) is the region that focuses on both and is most often the source of delicious crémants at very competitive prices, but expect rich examples of Chardonnay from Limoux and Jura as well.

Cremant is generally not aged as long in bottle as fine champagne, and this (along with a lack of pixie dust and marketing budget) is one of the reasons it is less expensive. Fan as I am, I must admit that, in general, the crémant, although complex, does not have quite the sophistication and the longevity of the great champagnes.

But for a classy sparkling wine at a fair price for parties and Christmas celebrations, it’s very hard to beat.

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