I know it’s April the 1st and here’s a post on Cremant, but don’t conflate the two!
The BIVB have been telling me for a while now ‘you know that Cremant is now 13% of Burgundy production, don’t you(?)‘ but for a number of reasons I’ve resisted their entreaties to get my pen out; not least lack of experience but more generally because I see Cremant as ‘different’ to the rest of Burgundy – amongst other things, it’s made on a more industrial scale – not exactly the small domaine principle. There are a handful of Burgundians hand-producing Cremant but they are but specks when compared to the volume of producers like Kritter, Veuve Ambal and Louis Bouillot.
Many producers in Champagne are now choosing to make their own wine instead of selling to the Grande Maisons, amongst these new artisans, ‘zero dosage’ is becoming a common theme, so it was interesting to hear that Cremant de Bourgogne producer, Louis Bouillot had just launched a range of zero dosage bottles; more interestingly from specific vineyard areas, specifically Gevrey-Chambertin (Les Grands Rayes Blancs) Savigny-lès-Beaune (Dessus Les Vermots) and a blend St Aubin, St Romain and St Véran (Les Trois Saints). There’s a fourth cuvée too which is an equal blend of the other three.
Begrudgingly, (because of their industrial volume) I have found the wines of Louis Bouillot to be quite good, and certainly high quality for their genre, so I was quite interested in these. Notably, cremant is the last resort for grapes that no-one would want to make still wine with, but choosing a zero dosage approach means there is no place to hide – the fruit needs to have decent ripeness. To aid this process LB reduced their yields from close to 80hl/ha down to 60hl/ha and then properly aged the product – of these three wines, one is a 2003 and the others are from 2005 – yes, vintage cremant!
It seemed fair to enlist the help of my neighbours to compare and contrast thes wines, and I also chose a wine from another place to act as a benchmark. One of the cremants was a blanc de blanc, the other two blanc de noirs – I chose to taste the BdB first and the two BdN to follow in no particular order. Two of the three Bouillots need time to settle after opening and develop in the glass – the third seemed rather more stable:
2003 Louis Bouillot, Les Grandes Terroirs Les Trois Saints
Blanc de blanc, zero dosage. Pale yellow, plenty of large bubbles. The nose is high-toned and quite fresh, showing a little green-skinned fruit and a faint ester impression. In the mouth the fruit is also high-toned and estery, perhaps a little aldehyde too. The impression is a little tart, but not overly so as the sweetness of fruit comes through. This is the wine that was most improved in the glass – cleaning up the fruit to lose that ester/aldehyde impression and with it the acidity smoothing out. I found the nose quite impressive and generally this to be quite tasty – a candidate for decanting perhaps(?)
2005 Louis Bouillot, Les Grandes Terroirs Dessus Les Vermots
Blanc de noirs, zero dosage. Lighter yellow. Deeper aromas. In the mouth there are more bubbles and more obvious fruit – here is another wine that needs time to settle (needs decanting) as there is too much gas to start with. As the bubbles fade, the wine comes together with clean fruit flavour and a long-lasting finish. The nose really comes together with a lovely blend of fruit and a creamy base. Very nice wine in a fresh and fruity vernacular
2005 Louis Bouillot, Les Grandes Terroirs Les Grands Rayes Blancs
Blanc de noirs, zero dosage. Light again but a more golden shade. The nose is the most complex of the three; darker aromas with a little savoury note too. Not as overly gassy as the ‘Vermots’, and despite a long line of intense fruit through the core and into the finish this is less overtly ‘fruity’ than the previous wine. The nose is really singing after about 15 minutes. Very nice wine indeed.
As a benchmark, we compared these with the following:
Benoit Lahaye, NV Champagne Brut Nature
Light in colour with the finest (smallest) bubbles. The nose is deeply perfumed with just an edge of freshness. In the mouth this is finely boned and very pretty – perhaps without the bravado of the two cremant blanc de noirs, but very tasty indeed.
The champagne was the most refined, but nobody exclaimed that it was clearly the best. Concentrating on the cremants, there were two votes for the fruit of the Vermots and two votes (including mine) for the complexity of the Grands Rayes – perhaps the Blanc de Blanc needs a little more aging, though it also needed air to clean-up – it anyway seems that I remain a Gevrey-boy! Good wines for sure – though I expect value will be in the eye of the beholder as the cremants range from €18 up to €32 (retail) – but I don’t know which costs what.
Bottles supplied for review by Louis Bouillot.