Big thing about sparkling wine, and the taste you’ll get is how it’s made. If you know how it’s made you’re well over half the battle of what to expect.
I did a blog (feels like ages ago now) about the different methods used to make sparkling wines. Crémant, along with Champagne and Cava, uses the traditional method. This is where the second fermentation happens in the bottle, the ageing on the lees (the sediment including the yeast) happens in the bottle, the sediment is removed from the bottle, and the same bottle is cleaned up, packaged, and sold.
What does that mean for the taste? Well there’s this thing called yeast autolysis. Sounds fancy, but it’s really pretty straight forward. Yeast is what turns the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Once it’s done all this (and died) it is still kept with the wine in the bottle. The dead yeast then break down into the wine and become part of the final wine you drink. That’s yeast autolysis. Dead yeast cells breaking up and giving the final product a yeasty taste (think bread/biscuit kind of thing).
In Champagne they have longer legal requirements for how long the wine must stay in the bottle with its lees. This is usually (I stress usually) why the yeast flavours tend to be more obvious and more integrated. In Cava and Crémant production I think it’s just 9 months minimum. So maybe the autolytic smells (those coming from yeast autolysis) might not be so pungent.
Another thing that is very important is that the base wine is very acidic. This will mean that the grapes get picked as early as possible to make sure they’re fresh. What does that mean for the flavours in the grape? Yup, can sometimes not be so well formed and maybe a tad light in the finished product. Traditional method wines do have some fruit flavour (Crémant does smell like the grapes that went into it from around the regions), but the big things are the autolysis and the high acidity.
I’m expecting the wines this week to be very refreshing, which’ll set me up nice for next week.
Other posts in NWTW Week 12: