kelly magyarics

washington, d.c.-based wine, spirits & lifestyle writer / wine educator

703.203.9463

*Almost* Champagne

I think Cremant de Bourgogne is an absolute steal when it comes to sparkling wine. After all, it's made in Burgundy, where the two major permitted grapes are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. And Chardonnay and Pinot also just happen to be two of the three grapes (along with Pinot Meunier) that are permitted in true French Champagne.

But the similarities don't end there. Cremant de Bourgogne is bottle fermented in the traditional method, so it has small bubbles and complex notes. All at a fraction of the price of the stuff from a bit up north. Yet, it's still French, so a Champagneophile needn't feel too much like a traitor.

If you have not yet tried a Cremant de Bourgogne, a good producer with which to start is Louis Bouillot. His Perle de Nuit Blanc de Noirs is a beautiful bottle. It's made with Pinot Noir and some Gamay (the grape of Beaujolais). The color is light gold, with just a tinge of pink or salmon, depending on the light. It's fermented for 24 months, which is 15 months longer than what the law requires. This adds to its full mouth feel and complexity. But it still finishes cleanly.

Try it with scallops with beurre blanc for an intimate New Year's Eve dinner. At less than $20 a bottle, you can also serve it during larger parties.