17.10.19

Crémant d'Alsace - France's Sparkling Success Story

Domaine Dirler-Cadé Crémant 2014 Brut Nature Top Of The Pops At Our Recent Crémant d’Alsace Tasting

After Champagne, Crémant d’Alsace is the sparkling wine most commonly found in fridges in France: in fact, between 33 - 40% of AOC sparkling wine in France is Crémant d’Alsace and over 90% of its production stays there.

Fortunately for us Brits, increasing numbers of bottles of this flavoursome fizz are slowly but surely making their way to our shores.  Foulques Aulagnon from the Conseil Interprofessionel des Vins d’Alsace (CIVA) says: “The combination of high quality and an undeniably competitive price point means Crémant d’Alsace is starting to be seen as the challenger to great sparkling wines on your side of the Channel, as well as ours.”

CIVA figures show that there has been an increase of:

  • 82% in volume of exports to the UK over 2017 compared to 2016
  • 4 times in value of exports to the UK over the last five years

Alsace and Champagne share similarly northerly locations, but Alsace has its signature dry, warm, sunny climate giving riper fruit with more rounded flavours.  This was spotted by the 17-year-old Julien Dopff, from the Dopff-au-Moulin family, when he went to the Paris World Exhibition in 1900 and was so impressed by the Champagnes tasted there, that he went to the region to study winemaking.  After WWII, he put into practice his belief that a Crémant made from local grape varieties and reflecting the terroir of Alsace should be produced and protected.

1976, four years after his death, Crémant d’Alsace was officially recognised as an AOC, with very strict rules concerning its production:

  • The wines must be lees-aged for a minimum of nine months
  • The wines must be made using the Traditional Method

At a recent tasting of 20 different Alsace Crémants available in the UK, the Domaine Dirler-Cadé 2014 Brut Nature prompted much praise for the category, so we’re sending you a bottle so you can see for yourself just how good Alsace Crémant can be.  Fittingly, the Dopff Au Moulin Cuvée Julien NV came a very close second (RRP £16.99: Strictly Wine, Askew Wines, The Wine Society). 

 

Domaine Dirler-Cadé Crémant D’Alsace 2014 Brut Nature
RRP £20.25, The Whisky Exchange, Noble Fine Liquor, Selfridges, Weber & Tring’s, The Vine Trail

Following courses with Biodynamics advisor François Bouchet in 1997, Jean and Jean-Pierre Dirler decided in 1998 to switch their estate to Biodynamic agriculture.  At that time, 14.2 acres out of the total 22.3 acre Dirler estate were converted.  Then in 1999, the last 7.4 acres (the steepest and narrower vineyards) also became Biodynamic, with a plough horse being used to work the land.

 

Winemaker

Ludivine & Jean Dirler

Location

Vines planted in Bergholtz and Guebwiller.

Size of domaine

16.9 hectares of which 2.02h for this Cuvée

Grapes

50% Pinot Gris, 45% Auxerrois et 5% Pinot Noir

Terroir

Sand, clay and alluvium on a 15% slope (south-east and east facing), 50cm to 1m above the bedrock

Viticulture

Soil ploughed 4 to 5 times a year.  Old wood not pruned off until March.  Butts and debutts of the vines during the winter.   Debuds but never green harvest.  Uses sulphur and homeopathic doses of the plant horsetail against oidium.  Uses Bacillus Thurengiensis against pests.  Never uses fertiliser, only a touch of limestone if necessary.  Manual harvest with careful selection carried out.  Yield 60 hl/ha.

Certified Organic (Ecocert), Biodynamic (Biodyvin).

Vinification

Indigenous yeasts for Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.  Selected yeasts for Pinot Auxerrois.  Pneumatic press.  No chaptalisation of the base wine.  Fermented at 20˚C for 3 to 4 weeks in stainless steel cuves.  Elevage of 7 months.  Malolactics blocked.  No reserve wine used.  Plate filtered.  24 g/l for the secondary fermentation.  Average of 18 month sur lattes under capsule.  Disgorged 3 times a year.  Zero dosage.  Produces an average of 9,000 bottles a year.