The word Crémant is used for quality sparkling wines produced in France which are made outside of the designated Champagne region, but employ the same method / technique as those used in Champagne to craft a sparkling wine.
Several sparkling wine appellations in France were given the use of this word 'Crémant' in the 1980s - with an agreement that they would no longer use the term 'Methode Champenoise', which has now been replaced with the term 'Methode Traditionnelle', or 'Traditional Method'.
Sparkling wines designated Crémant have to fulfill strict production criteria. In France, there are currently 7 appellations for the designation Crémant:
• Crémant d'Alsace - (AOC 1976)
• Crémant de Bordeaux
• Crémant de Bourgogne - (AOC 1975)
• Crémant de Die
• Crémant du Jura
• Crémant de Limoux
• Crémant de Loire - (AOC 1975)
There is also a Crémant designation outside of France: Crémant de Luxembourg.
French appellation wine laws dictate that a Crémant must be harvested by hand with vine yields not exceeding a strict set amount. The wines must also be aged for a minimum of one year before release. The Loire Valley region is currently France's largest producer of sparkling wines outside of the Champagne region.
The majority of these 'Crémant de Loire' are a blend of; Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc. AOC laws do allow cuvees with Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Cot, Pineau d'aunis and Grolleau but those grapes are rarely used in a significant amount. In Burgundy, AOC laws require that Crémant de Bourgogne be composed of at least thirty percent Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris.
The Languedoc wine Crémant de Limoux is produced in the 41 villages around the village of Limoux in the south of France. The wine is composed primarily of the indigenous grape Mauzac with some Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay.
Since the designation Crémant is not reserved exclusively for French use (as a result of it replacing Methode Champenoise), it may also be used by producers in other EU countries which fulfil the production criteria, although such usage is rare.