Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Crémant d'Alsace & The Spartans At Thermopylae
On last Thursday, I participated in a Twitter Tasting event of four Crémants d'Alsace (all media samples). For some background on Crémant d'Alsace, please check out a few of my prior posts about this delicious Alsatian sparkling wine, including Gustave Lorentz: More Alsatian Wine Treasures, Alsatian Wines & Pheasant at Craigie On Main, and Crémant d'Alsace: A New Year's Eve Recommendation.
As I've mentioned before, Alsatian wines, and especially Crémant, isn't on the radar of many average wine consumers. When we consider statistics about the U.S. sparkling wine market, we see that Crémant d'Alsace is in a similar spot to the ancient Spartans at Thermopylae, as only about 300K bottles of Crémant d'Alsace are imported into the U.S. That 300K stands up to a massive army of other sparkling wines, including about 18M bottles of Champagne and 99M bottles of domestic sparkling wine. This massive army of Champagne, Cava, Prosecco and other sparkling wines is like the huge and diverse Persian army which threatened the Spartans.
Crémant d'Alsace is vastly outnumbered in the market yet it stands strong, possessed of great heart. Those familiar with Crémant d'Alsace understand its power and allure. They understand that the quality of Crémant d'Alsace allows it to compete well against any other sparkling wine. It might be considered an underdog, but you would underestimate it at your peril. Give this "Spartan" bubbly a try!
What a sense of history! The Lucien Albrecht winery traces its roots back nearly 600 years, as it was founded by Romanus Albrecht in 1425. Albrecht was also one of the primary proponents of the creation of the Crémant d'Alsace AOC. The Lucien Albrecht NV Blanc de Blancs Cremant d’Alsace Brut ($19) is a blend of 80% Pinot Auxerrois, 10% Pinot Blanc, and 10% Chardonnay. Crisp, clean, dry and elegant, it possessed a prominent lime flavor with an underlying minerality. Complex and refreshing, I wanted to sip this with a bag of salty potato chips. A good value at this price.
Dopff et Irion NV Crémant D'Alsace Brut Rosé ($17). Another winery with roots hundreds of years in the past, back to 1574, the Dopff family were also the first, at the beginning of the 20th century, to create sparkling wine in the Alsace region. This Brut Rosé is made from 100% Pinot Noir and I likened it to a dish of strawberries and cream. Though dry and crisp, there was a rich creaminess to the wine, with plenty of delicious red fruit flavors, including plenty of strawberry. Complex and with a lingering finish, I found this to be a compelling wine, as well as an excellent value for the price. Out of the four bottles of Crémant, this was the only empty bottle at the end of the night. Thought the other bottles still tasted delicious the next day.
Do not underestimate Crémant d'Alsace. It is delicious and often presents a very good value for the quality. It may be the best sparkling wine that you probably are not drinking, but should.