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Crémant Vs. Champagne: What Is The Difference?

Crémant Vs. Champagne: What Is The Difference?

Sparkling wines are commonly served both at private parties and public celebrations. People equally enjoy them whether they are served as an aperitif or with dessert. There are dozens of styles of sparkling wines worldwide. However, if you narrow down your search to France, you will soon find only two sparkling wines leading the pack – Crémant and Champagne.

At the very start, it is important to note that you can’t use these two terms interchangeably. There is one thing that Crémant and Champagne share – they are both exceptional beverages. However, some noteworthy differences make enjoying these two sparkling wines quite different. Let’s see what the difference between these two is.champagne bottle

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What is Crémant?

Before we dive into differences, let’s make sure you understand what Cremant is. Crémant features a recognizable texture, great taste and leaves you with a unique aftertaste after you take a sip. It’s as refreshing as Champagne.

Winemakers use various grapes to make the Crémant sparkling wine. That’s precisely why different Crémant wines have different flavors. It’s all about the specific mix of grape varieties and the unique microclimate in the region.champange

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What is Champagne?

Did you ever hear about the expression “all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon”? It translates to sparkling wines in the following fashion: “Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wines are Champagne”. There is a law that outlines which sparkling wine can be labelled as Champagne.

If you know your geography, you probably know a region in France called Champagne. For a sparkling wine to be referred to as Champagne, it must be made from grapes cultivated in this region. Not only this but there are restrictions on the method it is made. Even the grapes are strictly monitored, with Champagne being made from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. More on that later.

Now, since we’ve covered the basics about Crémant and Champagne, let’s see what the difference is between the two.

Difference No 1 – Geo-location

Have you ever heard about the UNESCO World Heritage list? Champagne is on that list, including the web of vineyards and underground cellars. It implies that Champagne has “outstanding universal value under the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.” Champagne can only be made from vineyards in the northern France region called Champagne.

Crémant, on the other hand, is also exclusive – not to a single region, but multiple regions. For instance, you will be able to find Crémant de Loire, Crémant d’Alsace, Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant de Bordeaux, and many more. Unlike Champagne, Crémant doesn’t even have to come from France, e.g., Crémant de Luxembourg.barrels

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Difference No 2 – Production Method

Yes, both Champagne and Crémant sparkling wines are produced via the traditional method. The traditional method dates back to the early 17th century. It refers to a process of creating conditions for a secondary fermentation that takes place in the bottle. Some people even call it the Champagne method.

While the production method is the same, the ageing period is different in Crémant and Champagne. It is significantly shorter in Crémant sparkling wines. Some of the world’s most famous Champagnes take over three years to age while most Crémant age nine months.

The exceptions are two tiers of Crémant de Bourgogne, including “Eminent” and “Grand Eminent”. These two go through extended lees ageing, which gives them that bread-like and brioche aromas.

Difference No 3 – Taste

There are a couple of things that give every sparkling wine a unique taste. The most crucial factor is the grape variety used in sparkling wine production.

As you might’ve guessed, Crémant and Champagne feature different tastes. When it comes to Champagne, we have three grape varieties – Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. We could say that both Champagne and Crémant reflect grape varieties grown in their respective regions.

However, since Champagne comes from only one region and Crémant comes from a dozen regions, there are many more wine varieties involved in Crémant production. So, for instance, a Crémant can be produced from Auxerrois, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and a number of other options, depending on the region.

Crémant sparkling wines coming from different French regions will most often use Pinot Noir or Chardonnay to some extent and utilise it as a base to add other grape varieties to the mix.

Difference No 4 – Longevity

Simply put, there are far more vintage Champagnes than vintage Crémant. It tells us that Champagne is an age-worthy sparkling wine than Crémant. Crémant wines don’t age as well as Champagnes which is why you will most often see “to be enjoyed preferably within two years of purchase” printed on Cremant’s label.

The longevity of a sparkling wine depends on its pH value and phenolic content concentration – the lower the values, the better the longevity. Champagnes have lower levels of both than Crémants.

Difference No 5 – Price

Whether you favour Champagne or Crémant, you must know that they come with different price tags. In general terms, growing conditions in the region of Champagne are pretty harsh.

Add the longer ageing process and the luxury that the name Champagne implies, and you’ll get a recipe for a high-priced product. This is why most Crémant wines are more affordable than Champagnes.

Final Words

Although they are both sparkling wines, Crémant and Champagne are two different beverages. Hopefully, now, you understand what makes them different. The main difference comes from geography, ageing, taste, longevity, and price.

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