Move over Champagne, there's a new French bubbly on shelves
Australia’s love affair with Champagne has made it one of France's top export markets, and vignerons are now hoping another French bubbly - Crémant - will be a hit Down Under.
Crémant is the name the French give to fizz made outside Champagne.
Forbes noted earlier this year: "Crémant has been around for ages, but now it appears to be having a moment. Sparkling wine’s popularity continues unabated and consumers are finding Crémant to be a terrific budget-friendly option that offers complexity and finesse. It is similar to Champagne in two ways: it is from France and it’s made with secondary fermentation occurring in the bottle rather than in a large stainless steel vat (which is how most Prosecco is made)."
Crémant's approachable style, often lighter and more floral than Champagne, fits the everyday luxury wine tag that many consumers are seeking. The wines represent value for money, with quality and terroir sitting behind the cork.
The Loire Valley is the second largest sparkling wine producer in France after Champagne, the majority being Crémant de Loire AOC. Crémant de Loire wines have the consistency of strict AOC rules that ensure handpicked fruit, regulated pressing for juice concentration and that all are made in the méthode traditionelle manner that Champagne is famous for. Ageing on lees in bottle for a minimum of 12 months ensures a quality wine that punches well above its price tag, giving creaminess and complexity closer to Champagne than tank carbonated Prosecco.
Made from a mix of the Loire’s grape varieties, Crémant de Loire are often Chenin Blanc dominant blends that build from the variety’s hallmark crisp acidity with added complexity from Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay additions. Much like the classic Champagne blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Petit Meunier. Key areas of production are the Anjou, Saumur and Touraine.
Crémant de Loire exports to the UK surged 25% in the 12 months to the end of March this year, and UK supermarket Waitrose reported a 72% increase in all Crémant Sales in 2017 with 2018 already hitting 62% increase at the end of June 2018.
Australia is the world's sixth biggest market for Champagne imports. Looking at the off-trade, sparkling wine makes up 13.1% of total wine sales value as opposed to Champagnes 5.9% (Liquor Outlook Oct 2018 – Iri), the opportunity for sparkling wine is huge.
The Loire Valley Wine region is the second biggest AOC sparkling producing region in France with approx. 16.5 million bottles produced a year. 56% is exported to the top three markets of Germany, US and UK. Australia ranks 11th in export volume and is trending upwards YoY.
Click here to learn more about Loire Valley wine.