A bottle of crémant or Champagne?
The question often comes up: can Crémant compete with Champagne? Both benefit from an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée and are made using the traditional method for producing sparkling wine, but there are certain characteristics that set them apart:
- First of all, terroir: it's important to remember that the variation comes mainly from the appellation: quite simply, any wine that isn't produced in Champagne isn't Champagne. This means that a crémant can be just as good as its tough competitor, or even better in some cases.
- quality: the quality of crémants has risen in line with the range over the last few decades.
- price: price is often the deciding factor when it comes to buying a wine, depending on your budget. A crémant will be more affordable than a Champagne and offers great value for money.
- style: crémants have their own distinctive characters. Softness for Alsace, liveliness for Jura, roundness for Limoux or elegance for Loire. As we have seen, Crémant de Bourgogne is the closest to Champagne.
- size: the size of the bottle is also a decisive criterion, because unlike Champagnes, crémants are rarely available in magnum or larger bottle sizes.
There's an old adage: "It's better to drink a good crémant than a bad Champagne". So to stay within your budget, especially at large festive gatherings, choose a good crémant rather than an inexpensive Champagne.
Why crémant is cheaper than Champagne?
A luxury product, Champagne is more expensive than Crémant. This price difference is justified by several factors, and is mainly due to the cost of production and the winemaking method. Firstly, the cost of the grapes, which is much higher in Champagne than anywhere else in France: as the production sites are demarcated within the Champagne vineyards, the price of the grapes is between €6 and €7 per kg, to which a premium may be added in the case of estates run using organic farming or environmental methods. The cost of Champagne production also comes into play, accounting for 10% of the price of the final product: the grapes are harvested strictly by hand, to the highest quality standards. As for the winemaking process, Champagne ages longer after the riddling stage. The price increases considerably when the Champagne is Vintage: while for the vast majority of Champagnes, the final product is the result of a blend of grapes harvested in different vintages and parcels, Vintage Champagnes must be made from grapes from the same harvest. Vintage Champagnes also have to be matured for up to 36 months, which generates storage costs. The cost of the margin on Champagne is another factor that explains its high price: it can represent 20 to 30% of the total price of the bottle. This percentage includes both the producer's margin and the distributor's margin, plus VAT, which is charged at 20% of the purchase price. Finally, a not inconsiderable point that increases the price differential between Champagne and crémant is the marketing aspect, which is reflected in the luxury of the packaging: from the small grower-producer to the major Champagne houses, luxury can be found in the design of the box, the label and the shape of the bottle. The idea is to offer or open a unique box for a unique moment.