Time to drink. Time to drink Crément!

When I moved to Luxembourg I discovered this God blessed drink and my love story started. At a party I prefer to take a glass of crément than any cocktail. It is light, it is frivolous, flying and creamy. It is girlish drink, indeed.

Historically, sparkling wines have the special, privilaged, position and the strong connotation to the feast. We say “champagne” and the mind draws pictures of bubbles, holidays, happiness and festive days. We say “festive” and we mean “champagne”.

asti-martiniIn Russia and post-Sovet countries “champagne” is any sweet or semi-sweet alcohol drink with bubbles. However, you may got a big fine if you name your drink “champagne” and will try to sell it on European market. Unless it is produced in Champagne region in France. Champagne is the classic example of a sparkling wine. Although this wine is exclusively produced in the Champagne region of France, and only in this region!

It does not mean that there are no sparkling wines but champagne only. Many sparkling wines are produced in other countries and regions, such as Espumante in Portugal, Cava in Spain, Franciacorta, Trento DOC, Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico and Asti in Italy (the generic Italian term for sparkling wine being spumante) and Cap Classique in South Africa. German, Austrian, and Czech sparkling wines are called Sekt.

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In France and French-speaking countries they use term “Mousseux” or “Crémant” to refer to sparkling wine not made in the Champagne region. Sparkling wines designated Crémant (“creamy”) were originally named because their lower carbon dioxide pressures were thought to give them a creamy rather than fizzy mouth-feel. In France, there are seven appellations for sparkling wine which include the designation Crémant in their name, like Crémant d’Alsace or Crémant de Bordeaux.

The wikipedia page on Sparkling wines gives you full picture of requirements the wine producers must meet in order to be able to put the lable “crément” on their bottles.

Although we will focus on another sparkling wine, Crémant de Luxembourg.

A bit of historical facts

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In 1885, the French company Champagne Mercier began to produce champagne in Luxembourg in order to save on taxes. Wine imported from the Champagne region underwent the traditional process including a second fermentation in the bottle. Mercier were able to benefit from Luxembourg’s membership of the Zollverein for exports to Germany, avoiding the high taxes the Germans imposed on bottled sparkling wines from France.

Luxembourg’s own involvement began after the First World War when wine production was restored. In 1921, on the initiative of Paul Faber who gave his name to the Poll-Fabaire company, Luxembourg’s wine producers became members of a national cooperative.

Caves_Sunnnen

Today the cooperative, known at Domaines Vinsmoselle has 350 members representing 65% of the total volume of wine produced or almost 800 hectoliters. It was thanks to the initiative of Vinsmoselle that Luxembourg was authorized to use the designation Crémant de Luxembourg alongside the crémants from various regions of France (Alsace, Bordeaux, Die, Jura, Limoux and Loire).

The designation Crémant de Luxembourg dates from 4 January 1991 when the Marque Nationale: Appellation contrôlée Crémant de Luxembourg was introduced. A rectangular label on the rear of each bottle testifies to the wine’s authenticity and quality based on an examination of its colour, clarity, bouquet and taste. Luxembourg is the only country outside of France entitled to use the term “crémant”.

Production proccess 

Wine with this quality label must undergo a comprehensive chemical analysis in the laboratory of the State-run Institut Viti-Vinicole (IVV). It must achieve a score of 12 out of 20 points in an organoleptic examination of its colour, clarity, bouquet and taste. This examination is carried out predominantly by members of the tasting committee of the Marque Nationale for Luxembourg Wines (“Commission de la Marque Nationale des Vins Luxembourgeois”).

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Wine with this quality label must undergo a comprehensive chemical analysis in the laboratory of the State-run Institut Viti-Vinicole (IVV). It must achieve a score of 12 out of 20 points in an organoleptic examination of its colour, clarity, bouquet and taste. This examination is carried out predominantly by members of the tasting committee of the Marque Nationale for Luxembourg Wines (“Commission de la Marque Nationale des Vins Luxembourgeois”).

Sparkling-Wine-Pic

Crémant is made using a traditional method mastered long ago. As pinnacle of quality, it requires hard work in the vineyard and a rigorous selection of grapes and base wines. The grapes must be very healthy, nicely ripe and intact until they are pressed.

In addition to criteria imposed on sparkling wines, the Crémant has to fulfil the following additional conditions: From 150 kg harvested, 100l of must is extracted and after “dégorgement” (removal of the lees) there must be a pressure in the bottle of at least 4 bar. Its production is monitored by an obligatory “Carnet de pressoir” (“wine press manual”).

Luxembourg mainly produces Crémant brut. Crémant may be produced from a single grape variety or from a blend of several grapes, as vintage or not.

Producers

The full list of crément producers of Luxembourg you may find here. However, I would like to talk about several biggest producers and famous crément brands.

Bernard-Massard 

Background-A4-643x213The business was established in 1921 by a young wine-maker from Luxembourg, Jean Bernard-Massard, who had learnt his skills in Champagne. With the financial support of a small group of enthusiasts from Luxembourg and Belgium, he brought his project to fruition with the construction of the winery on the banks of the Moselle River. His Belgian partners helped the company to conquer the Belgian market, which has been Bernard-Massard’s greatest outlet for 90 years now.

Open hours and price

The cellars are open every day from 9.30 to 18.00 from the 1st of April to the 31st of October. Closed on Mondays. From November to May you will need to make a special appointment to visit the cellars.

The entrance ticket will cost you 5 EUR for a visit and a glass of crément and 2,5 EUR for children. You may also combine the visit to cellars with the walk in the beautiful butterfly gardens, which is open from 15 June to 15 October.

The price for visiting cellars and the butterfly gardens plus one glass of crément is 10,50 EUR, for adults and 6,5 EUR for kids including a glass of grape juice.

Contacts

Cellars: 22, route du Vin – L-6794 Grevenmacher
Tél.: +352 75 05 45-228 (-229) / e-mail : info@bernard-massard.lu
Web:  www.bernard-massard.com
Butterfly gardens: Route de Trèves
Tél.: +352 75 85 39 /  e-mail : bmstm@pt.lu
Web: www.papillons.lu

Les Cave St. Marin

Caves-S.-Martin-Almanach-Babert-1922-p.99

The winery was established in 1919, just after the First World War was over by 7 energetic men who discovered the magic of the calcium rocks of the Mosel river in the area of Remich.

The sparkling wine is produced with the traditional method, as it was done centures ago. The cellars of the winery is about one kilometer long. Taking a tour to the cellars visitors discover the secret of wines and crémant prodution in les Cave St Martin.

Open hours and price

Cellars are open for a visit from 1 April to 31 October, every day from 10 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. and from 13.30 to 17.00. Closed on Mondays.

The simple visit includes one glass of crément (5,00 EUR), the Grand Cru formula (6.60 EUR) gives you possibility to taste crément and Auxerrois Grand Premier Cru wine. The entrance ticket for children costs 3.00 EUR and includes a glass of grape juice.

Contacts

53, rte de Stadtbredimus, L-5570 Remich
Tél: +352/23 69 97 74 / E-mail: info@cavesstmartin.lu  
Web: http://www.cavesstmartin.lu

Sunnen-Hoffmann

Sunnen

This winery was created in 1872 in the commune of Schengen, which is a part of the Natural Park Haff Reimech. Nowadays the territory of the domain is 8,5 ha. The philosophy of the winemakers has been kept unchanged for already 5 generations: “Production of wine should be done with the greatest respect to the Nature so the wine takes the best from the wine grapes and soil”.

In 2001 the Sunnen-Hoffmann became the first winery in the Moselle region of Luxembourg which started the cultivation of its vineyards in the organic way (Biolabel).

There is even a special program at the domain, developed specially for school children, to explain the young people the culture of wine production, how seasons influence the work and activities in the winery, the structure of the winery and the step-by-step process of wine production.

Open hours and price

The cellars are open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. and from 14.00 to 17.00. 

Contacts

6, rue des Prés, L-5441 Remerschen, Luxembourg
Tél.: 23 66 40 07 / email: info@caves-sunnen.lu
Web: http://www.sunnen-hoffmann.lu/ 
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