Monday, April 16, 2012

Tasting 3 Cremants d’Alsace from: Domaine Albert Mann, Domaine Pierre Sparr and Domaine Lucien Albrecht, France

Pictures:  Tasting 3 Cremant d’Alsace from: Domaine Albert Mann, Domaine Pierre Sparr and Domaine Lucien Albrecht, France and Christian G.E. Schiller with Oscar in Alsace

Just a couple of weeks ago – in mid February – I spent about a week in France, touring several major wine regions, including the Champagne, Bordeaux, Bourgogne and Alsace. My wife and I like to start dinner with “une coupe” – a glass of sparkling wine. Of course, in Champagne, we have a glass of Champagne. In other French regions, we always go for a Cremant of the region, if available. See:

Wine Country France: 6 Days, 7 Regions, 3500 km - In 6 Days through 7 Wine Regions of France

Generally speaking, a Cremant is a sparkler produced using the methode champenoise, but not made in the Champagne. In France, there are 7 appellations for sparkling wine which include the designation Crémant in their name: Crémant d'Alsace, Crémant de Bordeaux, Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant de Die, Crémant du Jura, Crémant de Limoux, Crémant de Loire.

Our last evening in France was at Winstub Gilg in Mittelbergheim, where we stayed overnight and had a lovely dinner. We started the evening – of course – with a Cremant d’Alsace of Domaine Gilg. The Domaine Gilg is just opposite of Winstub Gilg. I think, the grandfathers of the current Winstub and the Domaine owners were brothers. See:

Dinner at Restaurant Winstub Gilg in Mittelbergheim in Alsace, France

Full disclosure: I was provided by the 3 Cremants by (New York).


Alsace sits in the northeast corner of France, sheltered by the Vosges mountains to the west and hard against the German border to the east. The vineyards reach from around Wissembourg in the north to Mulhouse, 70 miles south. Some 12 million cases are produced annually from 32,000 acres of vineyards.

Pictures: Impressions from Alsace

Alsace is a fascinating amalgam of the German and French. The end of the 30 Years’ War in 1648 gave Alsace to France. In 1871, at the end of the Franco-Prussian War, Alsace was taken by Germany. After World War I, it was once more part of France — until 1940, when Germany reclaimed it. With the defeat of the Nazis in 1945, Alsace became French yet again — and so it has remained. Wine production in Alsace traces its beginnings to the early centuries of the Roman Empire, when the Romans conquered Alsace and introduced wine.

Alsace produces wines under three different appellations: (i) Appellation d'Origine Contrôlées (AOCs) for ¾ of the white, rosé and red wines, (ii) Alsace Grand Cru AOC for white wines from certain classified vineyards and (iii) Crémant d'Alsace AOC for sparkling wines.

Cremant d’Alsace

Crémant d’Alsace is a sparkler produced using the methode champenoise, but made in Alsace with grapes grown there and following the regulations of the Crémant d'Alsace AOC.  Crémant d'Alsace is a significant part of the wine production in Alsace, with 22% of the region's vineyards used for this purpose. More than 500 producers are assembled under the Syndicate of Producers of Crémant d’Alsace. Only a tenth of its production was exported. Most of the Crémant d'Alsace is consumed by the French themselves.

The grapes for Crémant d'Alsace are harvested many days before grapes for the other Alsace AOCs. As for Champagne, grapes must be manually harvested. Grapes come from varieties grown within the AOC Alsace area.

Pictures: Impressions from Alsace

Pinot Blanc: This grape gives Crémant d’Alsace a soft and delicate character. Most Blanc de Blanc Crémants are made from Pinot Blanc.

Riesling: Adds a lively fruit character, full of elegance and nobility.

Pinot Gris: Contributes a rich and round note.

Chardonnay: Offers lightness and style. In Alsace, Chardonnay is reserved solely for the production of Crémant d’Alsace.

Pinot Noir: The only varietal for Crémant d’Alsace rosé or a Blanc de Noirs.

Domaine Albert Mann

Domaine Albert Mann is a “green” winemaker based in Wettolsheim. Its 21 hectares of vineyard land spread over as many as 8 neighboring communes. Since 2000, the wines of Domaine Albert Mann have been certified by Ecocert. Domaine Albert Mann began biodynamic viticulture in 1997 in 3 Grands Crus vineyards. Over the following years, biodynamic principles were applied across the whole domaine and since 2010, Domaine Albert Mann has been in the process of receiving biodynamic certification from Biodyvin.
Domaine Albert Mann is the result the joint efforts of two big winemaker families, Mann and Barthelmé. The Manns have been winemakers since the beginning of the 17th century and Barthelmés since 1654. Today, the brothers Maurice and Jacky Barthelmé own and manage Domaine Albert Mann, with their wives Marie-Claire (a granddaughter of the late Albert Mann) and Marie-Thérèse.

Cremant d’Alsace, Brut, Albert Mann, 2008

This one is the only vintage Cremant of the 3 sparklers presented here. Also, this Cremant has a very special label: “The creation of a label for a wine produced by the Domaine Albert Mann is always the opportunity of a journey where all senses are summoned. Thus, for the Crémant d'Alsace, a sixth sense invited itself naturally : the sense of celebration. The formal words, imagined for the other labels here take a cheerful liberty : the logo divides itself carefreely into two and begins to circle like a turnstile of fireworks while projecting fine sparks, as the bubbles of this elegant wine do. The vine-shoots dance in the space, the blue colour of the streamers exalts the yellow evoking the subtle colour of the Crémant. Accompanying once again a wine of the Domaine Albert Mann has been for me the ideal pretext for a delighted creation.”

Vineyard Location : Kientzheim and Wettolsheim
Soil : Marl limestone
Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois and Pinot Noir
Age of vines : 35 years

Tasting notes: In the glass, clear yellow color, fine, elegant bubbles, on the nose notes of apple and citrus, creamy and smooth on the palate with good length.

Domaine Lucien Albrecht

Domaine Lucien Albrecht is one of the oldest and leading family owned estates in Alsace, tracing its roots back to 1425. Through eighteen generations, Domaine Lucien Albrecht has become one of the largest owner of prime Alsace hillside vineyards. It is based in Orschwihr.

In the early 1970s, Lucien Albrecht, the father of Jean, the current proprietor and winemaker, was one of the three founding fathers of the AOC Crémant d'Alsace.

Domaine Lucien Albrecht: “In our vineyards we emphasize a harmony with nature and, in our cellars minimal intervention in order to produce, in each vintage, hand-crafted wines that represent our terroir and family heritage.”

Crémant d'Alsace Brut, Blanc de Blanc, Lucien Albrecht, NV

This is a NV Blanc de Blancs made from 100% Pinot Blanc. The grapes come from vineyards on clay-chalky soil in Orschwihr and were hand-picked. In the cellar, the wine went through a completely malolactic fermentation.

Tasting notes: straw color in the glass, fine and persistent bubbles, flowery tones on the nose, good balance, light and delicate on the palate, long finish.

Domaine Pierre Sparr

The Sparr family started winemaking in 1680 and has handed down the love of hard work, the care for consistency, the need for efficiency and strength of their winemaking initiatives through nine generations. This family winery has built up a strong reputation for quality by producing with passion and consistency, the finest wines from Alsace. The 80 acres of Domaine Pierre Sparr include 4 estate single vineyards and 10 Grand Cru vineyards. More than half of the production is being exported to over 40 countries.

Crémant d'Alsace Brut, Reserve, Domaine Pierre Sparr, NV

80% Pinot Blanc, 20% Pinot Noir
Residual sugar 6.9 g/l 
Alcohol content 11.46% alc/vol
Vines: 26 years

Tasting notes: Pale gold green color in the glass, fine bubbles, notes of citrus, herbs and apples on the nose, nicely bodied with a good balance; pleasant on the palate, with a dry and clean finish.

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Wine Country France: 6 Days, 7 Regions, 3500 km - In 6 Days through 7 Wine Regions of France 

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1 comment:

  1. Bonjour,

    Thank you so much for the mention about our cremant love it!

    I would love to welcome you at our winery any time!

    Please let me know when you will do your next trip to Alsace.

    Look forward to meeting you!

    All the best,

    Marie Albrecht