The De Chanceny Cremant Brut Rose is pink French bubbly just in time for Mother’s Day
The first time the Wine Curmudgeon tasted this French sparkling wine, it was apparently corked – flawed thanks to the chemical TCA, which muted the flavors and gave it the faint aroma of wet newspaper. Hardly pleasant at all.
The De Chanceny is made with caberent franc, a red grape, in the Loire region of France, using the same technique as much more expensive Champagne. It’s usually a value, about one-third the price of comparable Champagne, and that’s true here. Look for berry aromas, lots of ripe black cherry fruit mixed with some pleasant tartness, terrific, tight bubbles, and a crisp, clean finish. It’s not as luxurious or yeasty as Champagne, but it’s not supposed to be.
In this, it’s food wine – Mother’s Day brunch certainly, but also a bottle for mom to enjoy when all the celebrating is over and she’s on her own again.
The Jean Claude Mas Blanquette de Limoux isn’t Champagne, but it’s not supposed to be — so enjoy the difference
The world does not revolve around Champagne, as I make mention of each year around this time. Sparkling wine is made almost everywhere that wine is made, and there are a variety of interesting, fairly priced, and quality labels. So know that the Jean Claude Mas Blanquette de Limoux NV does not taste like Veuve Clicquot or Nicolas Feuillatte, but also know that it’s not supposed to.
The Jean Claude Mas Blanquette de Limoux ($15, purchased, 12%) is a cremant, which is what sparkling wine from France not made in the Champagne region is called. A cremant from Limoux is made the much the same way as Champagne (the second fermentation is in the bottle and not a steel tank, as with Italy’s Prosecco), but there are a couple of differences. Hence, the production is called methode ancestrale to differentiate it from Champagne’s methode champenoise.
First, cremant de Limoux is made with different grapes, primarly mauzac, which is local to the region. Next, the second fermentation is unaided, so that the bubble creation doesn’t get a boost from the addition of more yeast, as in Champagne. These differences make for subtle, yet interesting changes from the sparkling wine most of us drink.
The Jean Claude Mas Blanquette de Limoux, thanks to the mauzac, is a very traditional blanquette, with a yeasty, brioche kind of finish. But unlike so many Champagnes that finish in that style, it’s also quite fresh and light, with barely ripe apple fruit. In this, it’s almost a food wine – New Year’s brunches, for example. What you don’t want to do is use it for something like mimosas, which would cover up what makes the wine interesting.
The De Chanceny Cremant offers Mother ‘s Day quality at a more than fair price
Sparkling wine value has been pounded by premiumization, as more bubbly costs more money even though it’s not necessarily worth it. This has been a particular problem with French sparkling that isn’t Champagne. These wines, from Burgundy and the Loire in particular, are called cremant to distinguish them from Champagne, and they’re made with local grapes. But they’re made using the same methode champenoise technique and be quite well done.
These cremants used to cost as little as $15 and offer $20 or $25 worth of value. Today, many of them cost $25 but taste like they did when they were $10 less.
The De Chanceny Crémant ($15, purchased, 12.5%) is an exception. It’s professionally made sparkling wine, with chenin blanc lemon fruit and hint of softness that is common in cremant from the Loire. But there is also a bit of chardonnay and cabernet franc to offer structure and a little depth so it’s more than soft and sweetish. Hence, a dry wine with tight, poppy bubbles and just enough acidity to make it sparkle in the mouth.
This is Mother’s Day brunch wine at a more than fair price. Serve it chilled, and enjoy with scrambled eggs, quiche, or anything Mom likes.
This year’s “Why did they bother?” Thanksgiving wine press release offered two roses, costing $65 and $100, as the perfect holiday wines. We’ll ignore for the moment that the point of rose is to cost much less than that; rather, why would anyone need or want to pay that much money for wine for Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving is the greatest wine holiday in the world because it isn’t about money or showing off, but because it’s about being thankful that we can be together to enjoy the food and the wine.
Needless to say, my suggestions for Thanksgiving wine cost much less and almost certainly offer more value. Guidelines for holiday wine buying are here.
• King Estate Pinot Noir 2013 ($26, sample, 13.5%): I tasted this Oregon red at an American Wine Society dinner, where we also had a $160 California red. Guess which one I liked best? This is is not to take anything away from the California red, but to note the King Estate’s quality and value, and especially for pinot noir — lighter but with a touch of earthiness, cherry and raspberry fruit, and a wonderful food wine. Highly recommended.
• Pierre Sparr Cremant d’Alsace Brut R serve NV ($18, sample, 12.5%): Sophisticated sparkling wine from France’s Alsace that got better the longer it sat in the glass, and which surprised me with its terroir and sophistication. Look for stoniness and minerality with ripe white fruit.
• Bonny Doon Le Pousseur 2013 ($26, sample, 13,5%): This California red is my favorite Randall Grahm wine, not necessarily because it’s better than any of the others, but because of what it is — syrah that somehow combines New World terroir with old world style. Lots of black fruit, soft tannins, and that wonderful bacon fat and earthy aroma that makes syrah so enjoyable.
• Domaine Fazi le De Beaut 2014 ($10, purchased, 11.5%): A Corsican rose made with a grape blend that includes sciaccarellu, the best known red on the French island. Maybe a touch thin on the back, but an otherwise more than acceptable rose with a little tart red fruit and that Mediterranean herbal aroma known as garrigue. And yes, I’d take 10 bottles of this over any $100 rose.
• Muga Rioja Blanco 2014 ($13, sample, 13%): Spanish white made with mostly viura has some oak, tropical fruit, and refreshing acidity, and why the Spanish don’t bother with chardonnay. Muga is one of my favorite Spanish producers, and almost everything it makes is affordable, well-done, and worth drinking.
The JCB No. 21 ($15, sample, 12%) is a cremant, a sparkling wine from a part of France that isn’t Champagne. In this case, it’s Burgundy, which means it’s made with the same grapes, from a similar part of France in terms of terroir, as Champagne — and at one-third the price.
Look for a nutty aroma, lots of crisp green apple fruit mixed with something like peach, the tight, firm bubbles that I love, and even some minerality. All in all, a much better wine that it has a right to be, and perfect for this holiday. In fact, I tasted it last month at the memorial service for my friend Diane Teitelbaum, and it was a fitting wine for Diane — lots of quality at a very good price.
One note: Prices for the JCB No. 21 are all over the place, with some as high as $25. It’s not quite that good, but if you can find it around $15, it’s an excellent value.
Summer is squishing us here in Dallas, and we ?ve been on either side of 100 degrees for a month or so. So what does the Wine Curmudgeon do when the air conditioner runs all day and the sun hurts to even look at? Break open the bubbly, of course.
In this case, a cremant from Burgundy. I ?ve always enjoyed sparking wines from that part of France, since it produces some of the best chardonnay in the world and quality chardonnay is a key to great ? and expensive — Champagne. Burgundian cremant (the French term for sparkling wine made outside of Champagne) provides quality for a fraction of what Champagne costs.
The Labet ($15, purchased) comes from the same family that owns Chateau de La Tour, a top-notch producer that can trace its wine lineage back to the 15th century. This is not Champagne ? it ?s a little more austere (the review in the link calls it rustic, which I like), but that doesn ?t mean it ?s not an outstanding chardonnay-based cremant. Look for some apple, wonderful bubbles and even a bit of caramel in the back. It ?s more sophisticated and a step up from most cava, and is a great value at this price. Highly recommended.
The holiday that must not be named is next week. You want to buy sparkling wine. But sparkling wine, being sparkling wine, is expensive and confusing.
Not to worry. The Wine Curmudgeon is on the job, as always, looking out for everyone caught between bubbly's rock and hard place. The Bertrand ($15, sample) is sparkling wine from France that isn't made in Champagne, which is why it's one-third the price of entry-level Champagnes. Better yet, it has much more than one-third of the quality, and is a tremendous value.
It's made using the same method as Champagne, and it uses more or less the same grapes (including pinot noir, which is not common in sparkling wine made in France outside of Champagne). That's one reason why it delivers so much value; its grapes are grown in the Limoux region in the Languedoc, where land is a fraction of the price of Champagne.
This is not as simple a wine as its price would indicate; the pinot noir gives it an edge that others don't have. Look for very crisp apple fruit and an impressively long finish (lemon zest, maybe?). And you can impress everyone with your bubbly knowledge: If the wine says Cremant on the label, as this does, that means it's sparkling wine made in the traditional method but not in Champagne. Highly recommended, and sure to impress whoever needs impressing next week.
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