Let's Talk About Crémant, Cava and Other Sparklers


I keep reading all this fancy high-falutin’ talk about Champagne on the board, yet not a soul ever mentions Crémant here. For that matter, nobody ever mentions Cava, sparkling Vouvray, California sparklers or any other type of sparkling wine. I love Champagne myself, both NV and vintage, and in fact had traded some bottles in from my collection to get my hands on some 2008 vintage Pol Roger Brut and Brut Rosé. But I’ve tried a number of Crémants and Cavas as well as some California and local sparklers over the years and quite enjoyed them. They are very much a notch below Champagne but they are also considerably lesser in price. When comparing QPR, I’d even say that you come away further ahead with Crémant than you do with Champagne. Cava I’m not entirely sold on yet thought I wouldn’t turn away a glass. I will never touch Prosecco, though.

So tell me, what non-Champagne traditional method wines does everyone here drink and enjoy on a regular basis? I’m thinking of trading more stuff in because the LCBO is on a roll this very hot summer and brought in quite a number of different Crémants so far: Crémant d’Alsace, Crémant de Loire, Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant de Limoux, Crémant de Jura, Crémant de Bordeaux, even a sparkling Vouvray. Of course there’s plenty of Cava as well. All of these fall in pretty much the $20 CDN range with a few higher quality ones just touching the $30 CDN range.

What do you guys think I should be going for? I have already traded in for the René Muré Cuvée Prestige Crémant as it seemed a bit higher end than most with an interesting blend of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Auxerrois, Pinot Noir and Riesling. Please discuss and/or point in the right direction.

Sparking Vouvray from Huet and Pinon
Cava from Llopart and Gramona
Jacky Blot ‘Triple Zero’ Brut
Cremant du Jura from Tissot (especially the BBF, though it’s gotten pricier)
Jo Landron ‘Atmospheres’ Brut
Eugene Carrel Brut Savoie
Clotilde Davenne Cremant de Bourgogne

Great post Tran. Can’t wait to see the results.

Futronic reccomended this and for the QPR I don’t think it disappoints. http://www.lcbo.com/lcbo/product/sku/370080.html

Some of my inexpensive-ish favs.

Didier Grappe cremant du Jura “Clash” - not cheap, but my favorite cremant
Chidaine’s sparkler, especially the late release
There are several Blanquette de Limoux which I like better than the cremants cause they typically have more Mauzac and less chardonnay
Rives-Blanques is solid, Martinolles used to be ok but I think they were bought out
I gotta say,as for Cava, I’ve never had one I really loved, but I need to try the spendy versions to check.

If you go to Pet-Nats, there are a bunch more I like, but lets stay focused.

I used to buy a lot of fairly inexpensive Cava since we like sparkling wines. I haven’t tried many recently so I’m very interested in current recommendations.

No clue what’s available, but Cava is like other Spanish wines in that it comes in a reserva and gran reserva, based on aging. The two largest companies that dominate the market made Americans (and Canadians) think that Cava is cheap plonk, but it’s not really, and holds its own against anything from France or the US.

What I’m not a fan of is sparkling Riesling or sparkling Shiraz.

Most of Cava (even Reservas and Gran Reservas) often offer pretty little of interest, although they tend to be lovely and refreshing and offering good value for the relatively little money.

However, there are lots of great Cavas out there, some of which that can offer some real competition against great Champagnes. If you don’t want to do the digging part yourself, here’s a small list of the selected few Cavas that have managed to impress me more than just a little:

-Reserva Particular de Recaredo (Aged for 9-10 years on the lees before release. At €50 this is not cheap, but it has managed to “whoah” me every time I’ve had it)
-Recaredo Turo d’en Mota (Aged for 10-11 years on the lees before release. At €100 this is one of the most expensive Cavas out there, but manages to deliver - and cellar gracefully for years. However, I’d say Reserva Particular offers better value for the money)
-Gramona Celler Batlle (A good runner-up for the Recaredo Cavas. Aged approx. 100 months on the lees before release. Fairly expensive at €50, but delivers for the price)
-Gramona III Lustros (Probably the best value from Gramona. Aged approx. 6 years on the lees before release. Ridiculously cheap for the quality at €25)
-Pere Ventura Cupatge d’Honor (Aged for 30 months on the lees, i.e. Gran Reserva. A good combination of gastronomic purity and hedonistic richness. Great value at €20)
-Agusti Torello Mata Kripta (Aged for 5-7 years on the lees, no dosage. Many people think this is just a gimmicky wine because of its amphora bottle, but it is honestly among the top Cavas out there. Don’t let the appearances fool you. Pricey at €45, but delivers for the price)
-Agusti Torello Mata Barrica Brut Nature (40% of the base wine is aged in old barriques. Aged for a minimum of 30 months on the lees, but normally 4-5 years, depending on the vintage. Rich, oxidative and toasty, yet lean, racy and mineral at the same time. My favorite ATM Cava and ridiculous value at €23)
-Loxarel Vintage Brut Nature Reserva (At only €8, this is a real overperformer in its price range: mineral, heavily toasty, complex and incredibly nuanced. My go-to Cava)

I haven’t been a big fan of Crémants, because they seldom offer anything truly captivating - they might be refreshing and tasty, but best suited for simple, immediate pleasure. However, Crémants du Jura are an exception to this rule. I haven’t had that many of them, but I’ve yet to taste a Jura bubbly that hasn’t ben downright delicious.

I think it also depends on what you are looking for. The inexpensive vintage Cavas I have found tend to have a bit more going on flavor wise than some of the NV cremant juice out there. Where typically, the cremants I have consumed tend to be a bit cleaner and crisper, which has its merits as well.

I have really enjoyed the 2013 Naveran Cava Dama Brut, which I think I paid $17.99 for, very complex and tasty for the $$. This with a nice aged Machego is very nice.

On the Cremant side, Celange Bijou Blanc - Cremant de Bourgonge has been a go to wine at around $25. It pairs phenomenally well with water crackers and Delice de Bourgogne. The slight funk and saltiness of the delice really works with the crisp minerality of the cremant. It is worth a try if you can find both.

Chateau Moncontour Cuvee Predilection Brut

Not inexpensive, but I just tried the Alsatian cremant from Gustav Lorentz. I thought It was more of a champagne ringer than a sparkler in a different style. That said, it was delicious. Great acid fruit balance for my palate, a bit of yeasty breadlines. Easy drinking on a warm night.

Just posted this 5 days ago:

"Encouraged by some of the OC guys on this board and via an email from Envoyer, I bought a couple bottles to just give this a try and I am glad I did. It`s really good and at just over $20, such a deal.

NV PARIGOT & RICHARD CREMANT de BOURGOGNE CREMANT ROSE- 100% Pinot Noir; medium pink red color; the aromatics from a small splash into the glass gave nice strawberry notes; the taste included strawberry and red cherries and a mild spicy accent; it`s really pleasing on the palate with a light frothy mousse; I opened this on a warm summer evening and it received raves from all 5 of those who were impressed by its gifts. This is not a serious, complex thing. It is just an easy, refreshing sparkling rose that is has just enough fruit to please and not break the bank.


I think it is not well known that there are good sparkling Nantais wines from folks like Jo Landron and Guy Bossard. Fresh sparklers, perfect for example for a summer afternoon. I just looked for the Bossard sparkler online and W-S only seems to show bottles in Japan, but they used to carry it at Whole Foods of all places.

I also sometimes like Chidaine’s sparkling Montlouis in the Touraine sparkler camp. They can be hit or miss IME. Hits are doubles and triples.

Becky Wasserman represented this firm for many years. The Blanc de Blancs is superb as well - I still think the best Cremant de Bourgognes are the finest sparkling wines outside of Champagne.

When I was in Germany 2 years ago I really enjoyed the Sekts from some of the top producers. However, quality Sekt is very hard to find here in the US. Raumland comes to mind as probably the best sparkling producer in Germany and some of his wines are available here. I’ve also picked up some of the late disgorged Sekts from the 1990’s from Peter Lauer over here. In the $50-60 range but spectacular.

More recently I’ve been seeking out Petnat sparklers. They are made in every wine region (particularly the Loire) and are slightly less fizzy made in the earliest style of sparkling winemaking.

Any US sparkling wine meet the prescribed criteria? That is, apart from Kirkland, of course.

I really enjoy a lot of US sparklers. Ultramarine, Domaine Carneros Late Disgorged, Schramsberg BdB

+1 on the Peter Lauer Sekts. They’re absolutely stunning.

For a super-moreish summer sparkler, I often land on Mas Daumas Gassac’s Rose Frizant. Not MT but seriously delicious!

I’ve had Ultramarine twice, the stuff is awesome! champagne.gif I always wanted to try Domaine Carneros but failed to pull the plug when it showed up at the LCBO as I didn’t know enough about it then. I really regret that now. Schramsberg and Sea Smoke I’d love to try but they are very $$$$.

For everyone mentioning PetNats, by sheer coincidence there have been a number of local Ontario winemakers who jumped on board the PetNat trend this year and I’ll be keeping my eye out for some of them. Most of them are experimental and sold at the wineries and the Leaning Post First Fruit which was a Muscat based PetNat has already sold out. Sounds like a more natural way of making Clairette de Die which is one of my favorite non-Champagne sparklers of all time.

Incidentally, I didn’t realize how hard it was to make Clairette de Dies and PetNats as you have to skillfully bottle the wine at a point where it is essentially still fermenting, create just as much pressured carbonation as Champagne/methode traditionelle wines, and maintain the desired residual sweetness (assuming you want to like in the case of Clairette de Die). All without the use of additional yeast in the bottle. That’s insane!

The thing I love about Methode Traditionelle wines and Clairette de Die is that the wine has so much carbonation it actually just fizzes in your glass while standing still on its own as opposed to dissipating away like a Charmat method wine or soda. I love the sight of that. Seriously, I 've left a glass of Champagne for 4+ hours alone and while obviously warm it is just as fizzy as when first poured.

I just polished off a bottle of Gloria Ferrer Brut Rose I bought yesterday, thinking about this thread. Good quality overall, a pleasant glass for the price. Lacks the finesse of mousse and the acid-flavor complexity of a decent brut Champagne, but at about 40% of the cost, a fair trade-off. Somewhat drying on the finish, with a bit of strawberry.

I’ve just begun pushing into sparkling wines in an attentive way, and my interim conclusion, at this point, is that I’d rather pay more for an occasional bottle of reasonable Champagne, than dabble in so-so sparklers for everyday drinking. I just don’t like them much, whereas good Champagne nearly always has an at least slightly fascinating, engaging aspect. Maybe I’m spoiled.