I have been fortunate enough to celebrate La Fête Nationale Francaise – Le Quatorze Juillet, a holiday marking the anniversary of the fall on July 14, 1789 of the Bastille, in Paris on a number of occasions. As readers of this blog know, I was a Francophile in my early life and majored in French in college. My father has always been somewhat obsessed with France and the lifestyle and food so it is a natural for me to think of today as a celebration. When I was in high school we spent an incredible Bastille Day at the Paris Hilton looking at the fireworks and the festivities on the Champs de Mars. Which reminds me of that incredible Cole Porter song, sung by Ella Fitzgerald, “I love Paris.”
I love Paris in the springtime
I love Paris in the fall
I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles
I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles
I love Paris every moment
Every moment of the year
I love Paris
If you have never heard of Crémant wines, it is time to change that both for your palate and your wallet. Crémant wines are made in a host of French regions, outside of Champagne, as you can see from the above graphic from Wine Folly.
The wines are made in the traditional method, just like Champagne, but come at a fraction of the price. Secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle rather than in autoclave which is how charmat made wines such as Prosecco are created.
Crémant are extremely well made wines, tend to have a creamy mousse and a lovely perlage, and are absolutely ones to keep for special occasions, everyday meals, and also to bring to a party.
There are eight regions in France that produce these sparklers. Some are very well known such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace, and the Loire Valley. Others are smaller regions such as Savoie, Jura, Die, and Limoux. All are absolutely wines to try.
One of the very interesting facets of these Crémant style wines is that they are made from a variety of grapes. Crémant de Limoux can be made from a combination of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Mauzac, and Pinot Noir. It is said that the first sparkling wine actually came from this region, produced in 1531, by the monks at the abbey in Saint-Hiliaire.
Crémant de Loire on the other hand can be made from Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Orbois, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grolleau (Noir and Gris), Pineau d’Aunis, and Pinot Noir.
Those from the Jura are usually a blend of Chardonnay, Poulsard, and Pinot Noir. The region got AOC status for their Crémant in 1995 although they had been making it for many years.
So many ways to celebrate France today. I started my day with pastry from Balthazar, a great way to begin.