Posted on February 6th, 2010
Bubbly, sparkling, champers. Conventional wisdom would suggest they warrant a special occasion.
“Champagne! In victory one deserves it; in defeat one needs it.”, attributed to Napolean, often misquoted, here possibly too.
Another popular champagne quote comes from Madame Lily Bollinger “I only drink champagne when I’m happy, and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty”.
However, my favourite is from Winston Churchill, arguably the king of quotes. “Meeting Franklin Roosevelt was like opening your first bottle of champagne; knowing him was like drinking it”. Wonder what wine Obama is comparable to.
Back to the bubbly in the bottle: Crémant du Jura
And what does this have to do with this Crémant du Jura? Well, it’s made in the same way as champagne.
This “way” or method was formerly known as the “méthode champenoise” but the champagne crowd didn’t want any old plonk to be associated with their reassuringly expensive bubbles and the EU kindly stepped in restrict the term specifically for wines which from the region. So, instead we get the traditional method (méthode traditionnelle). Still with me? Wow, you’re keen. So what is this method formerly known as Champenoise (TMFKAC)?
What does that mean? Well, it’s a rather painstaking process which goes something like this:
- Fermentation happens just as with any table wine to produce a dry “base wine” (fermentation is the conversion of sugars to alcohol by yeasts).
- The wine is then put in the bottle with some added sugar and yeast.
- This triggers a second fermentation in the bottle, where one of the by-products is carbon dioxide, the fizz when you open the bottle.
- The bottle is kept tilted slightly downwards where the lees (dead yeast cells) collect as a sediment in the neck. This can be for between 15 months to three years or more.
- Then, the neck of the bottle is frozen, the cap taken off and a small amount of frozen liquid (containing dead yeast cells) is removed from the bottle. This is known as “disgorgement”.
- The final step is the addition of some more sugar and other stuff (secret recipe for many producers). Collectively known as “dosage”. The amount of extra sugar added dictates how dry or sweet the wine is.
Back to the Crémant du Jura
So, we know the Crémant is made the same way as Champagne, mostly a laborious and expensive process. But is it as good as the good stuff? Will we be quoting famous historical figures on the virtues of Crémant du Jura? Excluding Bubbles DeVere, (Little Britain) “Call me bubbles, darling. Everybody does.”
Well, it’s been picking up a few gongs here and there recently at the International Wine and Spirit Competition 2009, the Quality Drink Awards 2009 and more recently back in December, the “Which? Best Buy for Sparkling Wine”.
What did I think? Whiffs of pear and apples, tastes of Granny Smith apples and citrus. Fabulous mousse – the frothy mouthfeel. Very very pleasant and at €10 from Aldi, a bit of a bloody good bargain.
With food? It wasn’t a special occasion, just a Friday night with a homemade Thai red curry – coconut milk, prawns, salmon and rice – pretty good match too (if you’re into that sort of thing).