• By Allen Dale "Ole" Olson   |   Sunday, March 31, 2013 at 12:10 pm   |     |   Print   |   Permalink

Whenever I see a bottle of Cremant d’Alsace in a retail store, I go for it. Not many suppliers carry it. Some Costco outlets offer it during the Christmas holiday season, and a few big box stores may include it in their inventories year-round, but usually in very small quantities. Cremant, of course, is the French term for fine sparkling wines made outside the Champagne Region, and a Cremant must be made in the same way as Champagnes, such as undergoing full-bunch pressing and resting nine months or so on lees. While Cremants are produced throughout France, those of Alsace are held in the highest regard. Each region decrees the varietals for Cremants in their jurisdiction, and in Alsace the grapes are Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir, with Riesling an option for those wishing to impart more body. Looking for a sparkler to help greet Easter morning, I was delighted to find a couple bottles of Cremant Brut under the label of Julien Albrecht, current director of Maison Lucien Albrecht. The Albrechts have been producing wine since 1425, and I was privileged to call on them occasionally┬áin the 1970s in their “new” premises constructed in 1698. Lucien Albrecht was very instrumental in getting official sanction for quality Cremant production in the early 1970s. The Albrechts are noted for their Blanc-de-Blancs, Cremant made of the whitest juice of the whitest grapes. Their Brut is 100% Pinot Blanc, a grape closely related to the Chardonnay, so close in fact that it’s often indistinguishable from its cousin. Light in body — only 12% alcohol, its straw color and vigorous tiny bubbles are very appealing, a perfect welcoming drink for the first days of spring and a festive celebratory dinner. It’s like enjoying Champagne at under $20 a bottle. I also learned from tasting notes that the Albrechts had recently won four gold medals from an official sparkling wine competition, more than any sparkling wine from the other French regions producing Cremant. It’s enough to make me want to go back to the tiny village of Orschwihr and thank the family for enhancing my holiday table.

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