Happy Bastille Day to those celebrating today! One of those will no doubt be Tony Gallopin, the French cyclist whose fine performance on Stage 9 means he will wear the yellow jersey for the French crowds cheering him on and enjoying the national holiday. Historically, this day’s summit finish at La Planche des Belles Filles has been significant as a place for GC contenders, but on Bastille Day every French cyclist will be out for glory. French cyclist Jean-Christophe Péraud says, “This stage will have an impact on the overall and position on the final climb is everything. Don’t be surprised if a breakaway is successful – all the French riders will be in it to win it on Bastille Day. I think whoever wins here will have an explosive kick.”
And for Bastille Day in Alsace, what could we possibly recommend but the region’s exceptional sparkling wine, Crémant d’Alsace? There are eight Crémant appellations in France: Alsace, Bourgogne, Bordeaux, Loire, Limoux, Jura and Die in the Rhône, with Crémant de Savoie recently designated an AOC and available for sale as of December 2015.
Crémant d’Alsace is incredibly popular in France, corresponding to as much as 30% of all vin mousseux sold. It’s produced according to the same méthode traditionnelle used to make Champagne, and accounts for 22% of all wine production in Alsace. Crémant d’Alsace is made chiefly from Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois, but Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay may also be used. For rosé wines, only Pinot Noir is allowed.
Crémant d’Alsace ranges from pale gold to a salmon colour, depending on the grapes used. Whites generally taste of toast, white flowers and citrus, while rosés will be full of bright red berry fruit and rose petals. In general Crémants d’Alsace are rounder than Champagnes. For specific tasting notes, Fiona Beckett provides a good profile of Domaine Pfister Crémant d’Alsace and we also like the notes for Baron de Hoen Crémant d’Alsace Prestige Blanc de Blancs, Willm Crémant d’Alsace Blanc de Blanc, Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé and Gustave Lorentz Crémant d’Alsace Pinot Noir from Cliff’s Wine Picks.
For pairing Crémant d’Alsace with food, we suggest considering Eggs Benedict (which Fiona Beckett considers one of the best wines to accompany it) for a luxurious brunch or lunch. The Wines of Alsace website also provides recipes for four of its pairing suggestions: Easy Crab Cakes, Baked Camembert with Figs, Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler, and Corn Pudding. Like most sparkling wines, Crémant d’Alsace is food friendly and excellent at cutting through rich dishes and bringing out the flavours of all seafood.
If you want more information on the wines of Alsace, whether still or sparkling, the Wine Society’s guide to buying the wines of Alsace by buyer Marcel Orford-Williams is useful, as are Wines of Alsace, Alsace-Wine.net, Vins Alsace, and the Alsace information page on Wine Folly.