That time of year has come again – the holidays. Whether you’re planning an intimate dinner with close friends at home, off to a BYOB holiday work party, or going over to your Aunt Nancy’s house for a huge family Christmas gathering, you’re definitely going to need something delicious and effervescent to drink. Champagne might be the obvious choice here – and while I do love a good handful of growers, I also think it’s important to look outside what you might already know of French bubbly and explore a few more off-the-beaten path, like crémant and Cerdon du Bugey. With sparkling tradition spanning from Jura to the Loire and almost every French region in between, there’s so much to discover and these five are a great place to start. Read on for my picks this holiday season.
Domaine Michel Briday, Crémant de Bourgogne ($23, Wine.com)
If you’re looking for a crisp, light glass of bubbly with notes of apple and pear to complement whatever it is you’re eating, this stunning little crémant from Bourgogne is sure to do the trick. It hails from a family-owned winery in Rully that’s certified both organic and biodynamic, with minimal intervention and vegan practices. Plus, bringing something from Burgundy is a great way to impress!
Domaine Renardat-Fache, Cerdon du Bugey “Initiale” ($27, Flatiron Wines)
Bugey is one of France’s tiniest wine regions, not far from the Jura and France’s border with Switzerland near Geneva. While most Cerdon du Bugey have a higher sugar content, this domaine is adapting to global tastes for lower sugar sparklers, and this bottle is no exception. It’s just off-dry so while the sweetness is certainly detectable, it’s not overpowering by any means, and the alcohol is only at 8.5%, so it’s super light and drinkable throughout an evening. This is the only rosé option I’m including on this list, so if you’re looking for something delightfully colorful, this Gamay / Poulsard blend fits the bill. Refreshing and fruit-forward, with notes of raspberry and black cherry this wine is truly the perfect holiday treat.
Domaine Christophe Mittnacht, Crémant d’Alsace, “Terres d’étoiles” ($26, Wine.com)
A fresh, delicate, mineral-driven nose of steel, flint, and even copper gives way in the mouth to a soft mousse and bubbles once sipped. This is a shining example of Alsace’s austere, stunning beauty and it’ll be completely transformed with a plate of holiday food. Also hailing from an organic and biodynamic family-run vineyard (are you getting the gist of this post yet?!), this is crémant d’Alsace in its purest, highest form.
Domaine Xavier & Agnès Amirault, Crémant de Loire, “Les Quarterons” ($36, Wine.com)
I have long been a fan of the St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil “Les Quarterons” from the Amiraults, so when I saw this one my interest was piqued. Turns out this team applies their magic touch to not only their still reds but their sparkling whites, too. This is a stunning organic Crémant de Loire with notes of yellow and green apple that makes for a fabulous pairing with any number of appetizers at the holiday party. The superfine bubbles and delicate mousse will convince even the pickiest wine drinker to enjoy a glass.
Domaine Buronfosse, Crémant du Jura, “Indigène” ($45, Kingston Wine)
Crémant du Jura is having a bit of a moment stateside, thanks to a handful of international sommeliers raving about it. And while that’s fabulous for expanding our horizons to new-to-us regions, it also means some – like this one from Domaine Buronfosse – are getting harder and harder to find. If you can get your hands on it though, you won’t regret it. This is a Chardonnay and Savagnin blend is similar in style to the Crémant d’Alsace included in this post, with a hard mineral edge balanced by delightful green apple.