Tomas Clancy reviews Caves de Lugny, Cremant de Bourgogne Sparkling NV and Maison Trimbach, Pinot Blanc, Alsace 2015
Cave de Lugny Crémant de Bourgogne NV
Pricing : around €20 (Look out for promotional pricing too)
Available : Carry Out off licences nationwid
This sparkling wine is one of the quiet hits of the summer, a sparkling wine that is made from Chardonnay, the same grape as is to be found in Champagne. Made from Chardonnay grapes from the home of Chardonnay, Burgundy just an hour’s drive south of the Champagne region and made in exactly the same method as Champagne. Best of all this wine is emerging from the increasingly hip source of adventurous and cutting edge wine making in France, Macon.
This is quite a bargain for such a meticulously well and expensively made wine.
There are basically two main types of sparkling wine production methods, one artisan and one quite industrial.
In Champagne we see the gold standard for sparkling production. The top quality grapes, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are grown in well sited and famous vineyards. After harvesting, they are essentially made into high quality still wine, called vin clair.
This still wine bears a strong resemblance to still wines of Champagne’s near neighbour, Burgundy. However, the Champagne producers then fill their still wine into individual bottles with a little blend of yeast and sugar. The bottles are individually sealed and over months, each individual bottle undergoes an in bottle secondary fermentation. The fermenting gas has no where to go in the sealed bottle and infuses over time with the wine giving us sparkling wine.
This slow, bottle by bottle process is wildly labour intensive and dear, hence one of the reasons for the expense of Champagne.
This Cremant de Bourgogne is produced in exactly the same way, with the same Chardonnay varietal from material that produces the famous still white wines like Macon, Pouilly-Fuisse, Vire-Clesse and one of the biggest selling white wines here, Macon-Lugny.
It is a few euro dearer than prosecco, but much cheaper than Champagne and when you remember that Prosecco is made in a huge one pot Charmat method, rather than bottle by bottle it is astonishing that this is priced even this closely.
And while we love Prosecco, we should also note that most of the cheaper Prosecco are frizzante, that is low pressure low alcohol wines which slide through our high taxes, while this Cremant is a full pressure, with conventional alcohol levels.
It is also, toasty, creamy and silky smooth with dabs of lemon and fine bubbles leading to a delicious clean finish.
Trimbach, Pinot Blanc, AOC Alsace 2015
Pricing : around €16.99
Available : Whelehans Wines, Silver Tassie, Loughlinstown; 64 Wines, Glasthule; Molloys Stores; and good independent Off Licences and Wine Shops nationwide
The Trimbach family have been making wine since 1626, so that is now running to 13 generations of the same family honing their wine making skills. They are located in the tiny and impossibly beautiful Alsace village of Ribeauville.
The family may not have moved more than 5 miles in five centuries, but maybe that is because the land around them switched ownership dozens of times between half a dozen principalities and nations over that time each time claiming that the Trimbachs and their neighbours were now subjects of prices in Austria, citizens of short lived Republic of Lorraine, or later France and then Germany, who changed the citizenship of Alsace twice in the 20th century during both world wars.
This has led to a little identity confusion. The villages have many Germanic names, but French monuments and street names. The houses are timber framed like middle European towns in Germany or Austria. The wine bottles talk of Cuvees in French but are sold in German Riesling style tall thin flask bottles.
That is the first thing to say, just because the bottle looks like a traditional Riesling does not reflect on the wine.
This Pinot Blanc, which in Alsace is a style, here a blend of 70% Pinot Auxerrois and 30% actual Pinot Blanc is a rich, beautifully floral confection. This wine is shot through with delicious tangerine, jasmine and even light honey tones over a fantastic base crispness and acidity. It is a wine made for easy summer sipping and begs to be had super well chilled with hard cheese, salads or watching France win the world cup.