07 Jun Dipping my toe in Crémant D’Alsace
Okay, not literally… Later this month the #Winophiles are exploring Alsace as the region celebrates #AlsaceRocks. While we were waiting for the wines for our upcoming post to arrive, I picked up a crémant d’Alsace that was available locally to pair with a weekend dinner. This is just my quick prep work, on June 16th the French Winophiles will get together on Twitter to discuss wines from this region. I have a beautiful shipment of wines from Teuwen that we will taste through for the event. So watch for that coming up and join us on Twitter on the 16th where you can follow #Alsace Rocks, #Winophiles, or #DrinkAlsace to converse about these great wines at 11 am EST! We will have a post, and over a dozen other wine writers will have posts on wines and pairings from this region.
Of the few crémants I found locally, I settled on an Albrecht Crémant Brut Rosé Tradition. I did a little research before heading out and this was one of the crémants that I was able to find some information about. I hate getting home, popping a bottle of wine and then not being able to find any information on the wine, winemaker or where the grapes were grown. So..we dive into the Albrecht Crémant.
Real quick primer, in case you are unfamiliar with Crémant. Crémant is a sparkling wine made in the methode champenois/methode traditionelle, but from outside the Champagne region. You may only call a sparkling wine Champagne, if it comes from the Champagne region. So…sparkling wines, made in the same method from other areas of France are called crémants. This particular crémant is from the Alsace region in Northwest France.
This brand has some history. Romanus Albrecht started this winery in 1425. Yes, I did say 1425, this winery has been creating great wines for almost 600 years. They began making crémant in the 1970’s and Lucien Albrecht and two others founded the regulated Crémant D’Alsace AOC which was approved in 1976. Sadly in 2013 the company filed for bankruptcy, but was bought by the local cooperative Wolfberger, whose oenologist and Director of the Wolfberger Head Winemakers oversees the winemaking here now.
I love when I can get into the depth of where the grapes came from. First, this is from the Alsace region which is in North East France along the border to Germany. These grapes are estate grown in Orschwihr in the southern part of the Alsace Region known as the Haut-Rhin. The village dates back at least to 728 and sits hidden in a valley between Bergholtz and Soultzmatt. Originally known as Otalesvilare this village was controlled by the bishops of Strasbourg, Basel and Hapsburg in the 13th to 16th centuries. The two hills that flank the village are known as Pfingstberg and Bollenberg. Bollenberg has Celtic heritage. The name comes from the Celtic god of fire. It is thought to have been a Celtic place of worship. The climate on this hill leans toward Mediterranean due to the sunshine that has no hills or mountains nearby to block the light. Other vineyards include Grand Cru Spiegel and Grand Cru Ollwiller. I will admit, that I was unable to track down in which of these four vineyards this Pinot Noir was grown. But the place is beautiful.
Crémant D’Alsace Rosé rules
All crémant D’Alsace rosé must be 100% pinot noir, by law, and beyond that, it cannot be “crémant by mistake”. The vineyards that the winemakers are going to use for crémant rosé, must be determined by March of each year. The juice must be lightly pressed and only the first 100 liters of juice from each batch of 150 kg of grapes can be used.
This wine is 100% pinot noir free run juice. Hand picked, whole clusters are lightly pressed with a pneumatic press and made in the methode traditionelle (like champagne). They age on the lee for 14-16 months after the secondary fermentation in the bottle.
This wine sits at 12% alcohol, so you can easily share a bottle with a friend or spouse and not have it knock you over. At $24.99 was more expensive than the other crémant d’Alsace that I found, but I felt it was worth it.
We did a quick pairing with things that we had on hand. This included a cheese platter with manchego and blue cheese, almonds, blackberries, apricots and an apricot compote. I found a winning combination with the blue cheese, blackberries and the apricot compote (which is just honey and apricots cooked down). The flavor explosion in my mouth was really wonderful, and then the bubbles of the crémant cleaned my palate making the next bite just as exciting.
We also did a flatbread with arugula and prosciutto and cauliflower gnocchi, that was browned in butter. The crémant was lovely with everything. It really is versatile for pairing.
We will be back to delve even deeper into Alsace with the French #Winophiles on June 16th! So check back with us then for a new post on great wines from this region as we celebrate #AlsaceRocks. You can check out more information on Alsace at @DrinkAlsace and join us on Saturday June 16th at 8 am Pacific time or 11 am Eastern Standard time (for the rest of the time zones, forgive me, but you must do the math), for a twitchat! That morning take to twitter and you can follow us and join the conversation at #Winophiles or #DrinkAlsace or #Alsace Rocks! We look forward to seeing you there.