What are the differences between Crémant and Champagne?

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While both make your evenings sparkle with their fine bubbles, there are nevertheless a few differences between champagne and crémant. These are two sparkling wines from quality terroirs and a near-similar production process, but each has its own specificities. Maison Calvet tells you how to distinguish them when dining with family or friends.

The production region: one of the key differences between crémant and champagne

Champagne is a wine produced exclusively in the region from which it takes name, the Champagne AOC. Crémant, on the other hand, can be produced in different AOC wine-producing regions. There are seven in total:

  • Alsace
  • Bordeaux
  • Burgundy
  • Jura
  • Savoie
  • Loire
  • Languedoc-Roussillon

Their origins are therefore very distinct. It should be noted that a crémant may never be produced in champagne or be labelled as such, due to its AOC. Outside this well-defined geographical area, a sparkling wine should therefore be called crémant or mousseux (sparkling). From 1975, INAO adopted the word “crémant” for sparkling wines from Alsace, Loire and Jura.

A similar traditional method, but different grape varieties

Crémant follows the same steps as a champagne to become a sparkling wine, using age-old techniques based on the “méthode champenoise” or traditional method. Although they are both produced in the same way, they are made from different grape varieties. This is another notable and quite important difference between champagne and crémant.

Champagne must be made from one of the 3 varietes from the Champagne region: pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier. These represent 99% of the grapes used. They can be made from a combination of grapes or a single variety.

Crémant, on the other hand, is not bound by such rules, although it will most often feature the main grape variety of the production region. As such, pinot blanc, pinot gris and riesling will be the key grapes used for a crémant d’Alsace. For a crémant de Bordeaux, sauvignon makes for fruitier sparkling wines with a wonderful roundness. It is this difference in grape varieties that makes a crémant so unique. Crémant de Bourgogne AOC is the most similar to champagne.

Ageing time

Another difference between a champagne and a crémant is the specifications in terms of ageing. Non-vintage champagne must age for 15 months, and 3 years for vintage champagne. The ageing time is shorter for a crémant, at between 9 and 12 months before it can be sold.

How to choose between crémant and champagne

If you’re still in doubt, these two sparkling wines will guarantee quality and elegance for your special occasions.

Maison Calvet suggests two types of crémants to serve at parties:

  • AOP Crémants de Bordeaux, perfect allies, light in character, expressing all the modernity and excellence of the brand
  • AOP Crémants de Bourgogne, for their freshness and fruity aromas, perfect to pair with all your dishes from aperitif to dessert.

— Monday 2 October 2023 by Olivier