Champagne’s Sham Pains 12/30/10

The New Year is upon us, and that means resolution time. What’s mine, you ask? I don’t have one; I am perfect. You, though, should probably start drinking more. And you might as well get things started right at the stroke of midnight: if a Snooki-less New Years Eve Ball in Times Square is any indication, 2011 is bound to be a long, dismal year.

Hey, remember a while back when I said I didn’t have a New Years resolution? Yeah, that was a lie. I actually have a little confession to make: I don’t drink much champagne. In fact, it had been over a year since my last foray into the effervescent world of sparkling wine when I began receiving requests (yup, plural!) to review some. So next year I’ll certainly be popping a lot more bubbly – and I don’t think that’ll be too hard a promise to keep. After all, you can’t spell “carbon dioxide” without bon!

I’ve already granted you my permission to use the term champagne in reference to all sparkling wine, because I’m like that; but for anyone who’s curious about the actual terminology, the word is reserved for wine that not only comes from France, but from the Champagne region of France. Sparkling wine produced elsewhere in the country is termed cremant, but only if it was still made by the traditional method, in which the wine, once bottled, is permitted to ferment a second time inside the bottle, in order to make it all fizzy and awesome.

Which brings me to the De Chanceny Cremant de Loire Brut Rose, which I picked up for $13 at a PA state store the second I saw that it was made entirely from Cabernet Franc, one of my favorite grapes. Yes, the name is an eyeful, but it’s actually not too bad: De Chanceny is the vineyard, we’ve just been over Cremant, de Loire hints that it’s from the Loire Valley, Brut is just champagne-speak for dry, and Rose means it’s pink.

See?  Pink.

See? Pink.

After cautiously opening the bottle, and wasting only a few precious drops in my n00bishness, I poured a glass of the cremant and was delighted to find a lively colony of tiny bubbles weaving their ways through a light pink ocean of booze, popping in and out of existence like delicious little quarks. The bubbles didn’t dissipate even after sitting untouched in my sister’s glass for three hours, and their persistence owes to the method by which they were produced.

This champagne (that’s right, I went there) smelled strongly of strawberries, with a hint of cantaloupe beneath them. On the palate it was nicely light-bodied, and the flavor profile came off more as I would expect a Cabernet Franc to taste, presenting strawberry and cranberry notes with a familiar, spicy finish of white pepper. The bubbles added an enjoyable fizz without being overpowering (like Andre bubbles can be), and the cremant was dry, as advertised, but with enough fruit and acid to compensate.

I’ll additionally note that it paired excellently with various cheeses as well as a leftover crab cake, and later, fresh fruit. I don’t know if this versatility is a result of the winery, the grape, or the traditional method in general, but I was pretty impressed, whatever the case.

I award the De Chanceny Cremant de Loire Brut Rose a strong thumbs up – I feel it would be irresponsible of me to give it a 10, not having tasted other champagnes even remotely recently, but even so, the bubbly bar’s been set pretty high.

Well, that’s it for me. I’ll be back next year, everybody. Until then, sparkle on!

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