16 May 2012

Crémant d'Alsace

I've always wondered why Alsatian cuisine hasn't really caught on in America. Choucroute garnie combines sauerkraut, hot dogs, sausage, bacon, and potatoes. It's like the entire 1950s middle America on a plate. Add in the pizza-like tarte flambée and a love of fruit pies, it doesn't seem that exotic. German heartiness with French names and a few regional twists.

Wine follows the same pattern, with an emphasis on white wines but a different varietal makeup when it comes to the grapes. Alsatian wines are often great bargains, are easy to introduce to newcomers, and the sparkling wines--the Crémants that make up this post--are exceptional values and are highly recommended for parties and weddings and other festive occasions where you want to serve good bubbly to lots of people but don't want to spend $40-50 per bottle for traditional Champagne.

I'm particularly happy that I enjoyed all of these with meals, not as bottles opened at parties or other special occasions. The prices are reasonable and over four or five meals I never found something that didn't match well. Plus, a decent sparkling wine brings a touch of class to an otherwise simple dinner.

2008 Domaine Albert Mann Brut
60% Auxerrois, 40% Pinot Blanc
$20, 12.5% abv.
Lovely floral aroma with a lot of green apple character. Wonderful balanced acidity and a good mineral base. This one reminded me the most of white wines I've had from the region.

NV Pierre Sparr Brut Reserve
80% Pinot Blanc, 20% Pinot Noir
$16, 11.5% abv.
Crisp and refreshing. Pear aroma with medium acidity. A little lighter than the former wine, and an outstanding "Champagne replacement" if you're looking for something to serve at a big gathering.

NV Willm Brut Rosé
$17, 12% abv.
100% Pinot Noir
I was so excited to try this one, based on my love of dry rosé. It surprised me with a nose of crabapple! I don't think I've ever encountered that before. Bright acidity, dry but fruity, touch of toast on the nose and a lovely salmon color. This one is just a lot of fun, and I'd love to start off dinner parties with this wine for months to come.

Note: These wines were received as samples.


fredric koeppel said...

I love Cremant d'Alsace. nice reviews...

Samantha Dugan said...

One of the things I've always adore about the Mann is the fact that it does taste of place...very cool that you got that too.

Benito said...

Fredric & Samantha,

Glad to actually review some French wines for a change. Crémant d'Alsace is one of those secret bargains that you stumble upon thanks to a kind wine shop employee or friend in the know. It's classy, it's French, it's got bubbles, and this is the price? I'm gonna open a bottle tonight while watching TV!