Burgundy is like the Mecca of chardonnay and Jerusalem of pinot noir. This blessed region of France is home to age-worthy wonders, but sadly, most fetch sums beyond many of our budgets. Even the village-level wines can be costly. However, while Burgundy still wines are becoming less affordable, Crémant de Bourgogne can be a bargain.
As is the case with Champagne, pinot noir and chardonnay are the primary grapes used to make crémant de Bourgogne. Aligote, melon de Bourgogne, pinot blanc and gamay are also permitted. All crémant, no matter the region, undergoes secondary fermentation in bottle, commonly known as both methode champenois or methode traditionelle.
Both Burgundy and Champagne have diverse soils that vary from appellation to appellation, but in general, though the terroirs of the two regions are different, they are not polar opposites. Crémant de Bourgogne would not compare itself to Champagne, but if you are looking for the most similar type of sparkling wine, this would probably be the place to go hunting.
Crémant de Bourgogne, Blanc de Blancs Brut, Vitteaut-Alberti, NV (Burgundy, France): Founded in 1951 by Lucien and Maria Vitteaut, Vitteaut-Alberti was one of the earliest producers of crémant de Bourgogne. Their granddaughter, Agnes, has been working at the estate since 2004 and released her first cuvee in 2006. In spite of its size (25,000 cases), the quality of the wines is top notch. Vitteaut-Alberti uses fruit from both the Cotes Chalonnaise and Cotes de Beaune for its blanc de blancs. It was aged in bottle for 16 to 18 months. Made from chardonnay (80 percent) and aligote (20 percent), this is a delicate yet lively sparkling wine with zesty lemon and apple fruit, with a hint of almond. Suggested retail: $20
Parigot Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé, NV (Burgundy): Parigot is one of the oldest crémant wine producers in Burgundy. For more than a century, the family has dedicated its property in Savigny-les-Beaune to sparkling wine, and the entire portfolio is worth checking out. However, if I had to pick only one to take to a desert island, it would be this rosé. Made entirely from pinot noir, it is crisp and bright with hints of strawberries and a little spice, but also has a little yeastiness in the background, giving the appearance of richness and body. Suggested retail: $25
Crémant de Bourgogne, Domaine des Terres Dorées, NV (Beaujolais): Since 1979, Jean Paul Brun has been his own man in Beaujolais. His first wine was actually a white made from chardonnay, not the red gamay that has been the region’s pride and joy for centuries. As Beaujolais is technically part of Burgundy, Brun’s crémant de Bourgogne falls into the appellation d’origine controlee (AOC). Composed entirely of chardonnay, this is a dry, mineral-driven sparkling wine with hints of Granny Smith apples and citrus. Suggested retail: $25
Blanc de Noirs Cuvée Granit, Château de Lavernette, NV (Beaujolais): Lavernette has been in the same family for more than 400 years. Xavier Boissieu and his American wife, Kerrie, whom he met during an internship at Saintsbury in Los Carneros, now run it. Biodynamic and organic, the property has been farmed sustainably for decades. Lavernette makes two sparkling wines, a crémant de Bourgogne and this, the granit, which is made from 35-year-old estate gamay. Juicy and lean with pomegranate, tart raspberries, spice and floral overtones, it makes a terrific aperitif. Suggested retail: $28
These wines can be found at Blackwells Wine & Spirits, Cask, D&M Wine and Liquor, Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, Paul Marcus Wines, Say Cheese, Vintage Berkeley, Weimax and William Cross Wine Merchant.
Pamela S. Busch is a wine writer and educator who has owned several wine bars in San Francisco, including Hayes and Vine and CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen.