30 Second Wine Advisor: A toast to Cremant 30 Second Wine Advisor: A toast to Cremant

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A toast to Cremant

Looking for something to uncork on New Year's Eve that's as elegant as Champagne, but you don't want to pay Champagne prices? Consider a Cremant ("Creh-MAHN," with a French nasal N at the end if you want to go for it).

Cremant, a personal favorite style that I've reported on occasion, looks like Champagne, with its wire cage and cork that comes out with a pop. It's frothy and bubbly in the glass, a French-made sparkling wine that's prickly, crisp and dry.

Cremant, literally translated as "creaming," was used for years to signify a gentler, less-bubbly style of Champagne. But since international treaties and European Union regulations have more strictly limited the use of "Champagne" and "methode champenoise" to wines made only in the Champagne region, "Cremant" has been reinvented as the label name for sparkling wines made by the traditional Champagne process in other parts of France.

Cremant was established by the 1970s as formal category for sparklers from Burgundy, Alsace and the Loire. More have followed, such as today's Cremant de Limoux, which comes from the hills of Southwestern France not far from the medieval walled town Carcassone.

The wine makers of Limoux claim that they've been making sparkling wine since the 1500s, long before those upstarts from Champagne popped their first cork. I'm happy to let them fight it out, but I see no room for debate over the proposition that today's featured wine, Gérard Bertrand Cremant de Limoux Brut Rosé, is a splendid bargain for New Year's Eve or any other time. You'll find my report below.

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California Wine Club

Forget Someone? Send New Year's Cheer with a gift from The California Wine Club!

A gift of award-winning wine is always appreciated. For last-minute holiday gifts, call The California Wine Club at 1-800-777-4443 or visit www.cawineclub.com to download a beautiful Gift Card or send a fun E-Postcard.

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Today's Tasting Report

Gérard Bertrand 2005 Cremant de Limoux Brut Rosé ($18.99)Bertrand

The combination of 70% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir in the blend are traditional for Champagne-style wines; the 10% Chenin Blanc, not so much, but the combination is fetching. The Pinot imparts a light peach color, with a frothy mousse that falls back fast. As a Cremant, not a full-power sparkler, its bubbles float rather than streaming. Good scents of apples, rising bread dough and a whiff of cocoa in a very pleasant aroma. Carbonation contributes to a creamy-fizzy mouthfeel, fresh and very tart, with white fruit and just a faint hint of sweetness in the finish. U.S. importer: USA Wine West LLC, Sausalito, Calif. (Dec. 19, 2009)

FOOD MATCH: Its frothy delicacy makes it a winner for sipping or New Year's Eve tasting, and it goes with a wide variety of flavors. It was amiable with just about everything on a holiday hors d'oeuvres buffet, and the leftovers made a great match with a South Indian fish-coconut milk curry the following evening.

VALUE: It's not "the real thing," true Champagne, but neither is its price, which is more than fair for a tasty bubbly elegant enough for a special occasion ... or New Year's Eve.

WEB LINK: The winery Website is available in French, Spanish and charmingly accented English. Click the round flag icons near the lower-left main page for the language of your choice.
Click here for a high-tech if somewhat bizarre presentation about Gerard Bertrand in English, a technology that makes the Website look like a book with turning pages.

Locate vendors and compare prices for Gérard Bertrand Cremant de Limoux on Wine-Searcher.com.

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