Alsace's Sparkling Wines for This New Year's Eve

Champagne and Alsace — the two northern-most wine-growing regions of France. Both produce lovely sparkling wines.

I enjoy Prosecco and Cava — those Champagne look-alikes from Italy and Spain respectively. In fact, for years, I wrote article after article about how these admirably priced bottles make sparkling wine an everyday possibility. I was (and still am!) all about popping open a bottle on any given day, just because.

But … the very everyday nature of inexpensive versions of cava and Prosecco make them less-than-thrilling for, say, a New Year’s Eve celebration. I just can’t see bringing out these bottles for guests on the dressiest occasion of the year.

And yet, Champagne — true Champagnes from the chalky soils of Northern France —  can get a bit pricey when you’re hosting a houseful. Roughly speaking, I’ve found that you pretty much have to pay at least $50 to get a bottle worthy of the occasion.

That’s why I find Crémant d’Alsace just right. Like Champagne, these wines come from a cool climate in the North of France.

While Alsace is known for its dry, minerally wines made from Riesling, it’s the Pinot Gris grape that gets crafted into the most respected Alsatian sparkling wines; however, other grapes, including Pinot Blanc, Pinot, Noir, and—yes— Riesling, may make their way into some balanced blends. Alsace’s rosé sparkling wines, made from Pinot Noir, are among the most renown outside of Champagne.

My all-time favorite Crémant d’Alsace is Lucien Albrecht Brut. And I’m not its only fan. In 2018 Wine Spectator named it in its top 100 wines of 2018. Decanter, Wine Enthusiast, and Wine and Spirits magazines all give it a rating of 90 points or more.

What do you get for the price ($20 to $25 depending on your region)? Delicate creamy bubbles. Crisp fruit (think apples rimmed with citrus) and a touch of the yeasty appeal we like in French sparkling wines. Elegance. Uplift. Finesse.

If you can’t find that bottle, look for these, which I’ve also enjoyed in the past:

• Pierre Spar Brut Crémant d’Alsace Réserve ($17): A little less expensive; a wee less finesse. Great for the price.
• Gustave Lorentz Crémant d’Alsace Rosé ($27-ish): A great example of a Pinot Noir-anchored Alsatian sparkler, with fresh strawberry notes in a gentle creamy package.

Because many crémants d’Alsace are imported to the US in smaller quantities, you might not find these exact bottles. If they are not available in your area, talk to your wine merchant and see what they do have. Take a bottle home, give it a try. Chances are, you’ll enjoy it. I haven’t found a Crémant d’Alsace that I wouldn’t happily drink.

Disclosure: Teuwen Communications, a P.R. agency, sent me three complimentary bottles of Crémant d’Alsace to sample this season. They needn’t have done so — I’ve been a fan of Crémant d’Alsace for years. But I thought I should let you know.

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