The Champagne region has a monopoly on the use of that name on a bottle of wine, so legally nothing grown or made outside the region may be called Champagne. But the methods by which fine Champagne is made can be used anywhere, and there are many excellent sparkling wines from elsewhere in France. They’re called Crémant, and we have imported them over the years from the Alsace, the Jura, the Loire, and Burgundy. Though some have much in common with fine Champagne, they all share a notable difference: better prices. Sparkling wines are an excellent idea in all sorts of circumstances, and we love being able to enjoy them at less than Champagne prices.
Our regular source for Crémant de Bourgogne is the Maison Picamelot in the Côte Chalonnaise town of Rully. The Chautard family has been making delicious sparkling wine in Rully for generations, and under the current management they offer a wide range of choices. Their base cuvée Brut “Les Terroirs” is an assemblage of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Aligoté from vineyards in the Côte Chalonnaise, Côte de Nuits, and the Côte de Beaune. It is versatile, inexpensive and delicious. Their Brut Rosé is from 100% pinot noir, tinged with pink, and redolent of fresh strawberries. For precise, clear wine that pairs beautifully with food, we favor the Blanc de Noir “Terroir de Chazot,” made from pinot noir of the Côte d’Or. Finally, for a wine most like vintage champagne, we offer the Cuvée Jean-Baptiste Chautard. It spends considerable time on the lees and acquires that yeasty, complex character that lovers of vintage Champagne seek out.