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Book review: L’histoire du Crémant d’Alsace ou la genèse des bulles

>> Friday, December 11, 2009

L’histoire du Crémant d’Alsace ou la genèse des bulles
By: Nicole Laugel
Bublisher: Jérôme Do Bentzinger Editeur

T story about the creation of the Crémant d’Alsace appellation is an entertaining success story. AOC Crémant d’Alsace came into existence not until 1975 and now they sell 30 million bottles per year. It’s the preferred bubbly of the French after champagne. The Dopff family (from Dopff au Moulin) is the protagonist in the book – it’s the family that pioneered sparkling Alsace wine with a second fermentation in the bottle. Already in the early 1900s Julien Dopff sold wine labelled as Champagne Dopff. At the time Alsace was part of Germany but in 1918, when it became French, using the word ‘champagne’ was outlawed. Instead they had to label it under the designation “vin mousseux”. This marked the beginning of the fight against this (as it is perceived) terrible denomination, since almost any cheap bubbly plonk can be called mousseux. Finally, in 1975, the fight is won and the Alsatians are allowed to start called their wines Crémant d’Alsace. But the road to get there was long. Outdrawn discussions with authorities (always sceptical), with Champagne houses (who have since relinquished the label ‘crémant’ that used to signify a lower pressure champagne), Spaniards (who it turned out also wanted to claim the Crémant name as theirs), growers, cooperatives…

The book reads well and gives a very interesting insight into the travails behind the creation of an appellation contrôlée. We are also given some details of how you make sparkling wines with different methods. At the outset it was only Dopff au Moulin and two co-operatives who made sparkling Alsace wine. Now almost every producer makes one or more bubbly cuvées.

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