La Route du Cremant

Sleeping soundly in our huge bed we are awoken by the sound of raindrops on the Velux windows! No light shower either a substantial downpour that puts paid to any thoughts of a swim before breakfast. A recce of the complimentary bikes reveals why they are complimentary, there are no gears!

After a thirty second discussion the bike idea is canned and we head off to breakfast. The spread is amazing as usual. A range of cheeses and charcuterie, fresh fruit, pastries, quiches and tarts.

Refuelled and ready to go we head off to Châtillon-sur-Seine, the largest town on La Route du Cremant. This is a signed 120km route around the villages that surround Châtillon-sur-Seine which make both still and sparkling wines but are really renowned for their sparkling methode traditionelle wines.

Châtillon-sur-Seine is largely closed for business it's the first day of the two weeks of French holidays that many independent shops close up for. We do find a shop promoting the still and sparkling wines of Bailly Lapierre. A massive result as their cellars are a good hour and half away and not on our schedule. There's a range of Cremant on tasting so at 11am the first bubbly passes my lips and after making my selections leave with a spring in my step.

We find a little boulangerie and stop for coffee and share a deliciously sweet almond croissant. We then head to the nearby Auchan supermarche to recce for our picnic dinner later before realising that it's already 12:30pm and all the Cremants producers are now out to lunch!

We drive back to the hotel passing through the vineyards View Vineyards at Massingy

Back in Courban we catch a few rays by the pool and cool off before heading back out to Belan-sur-Ource in search of Jean Girard a legendary Cremant producer.

After speaking to a few locals we approach his cellar door in anticipation and ring the bell. Monsieur Girard greets us and invites us in for a degustation.


Once inside his caveau Jean introduces us to his extensive range of Cremant.

100% Pinot Noir that is full of red fruit with a perfect balance of acidity and fruit flavours. It benefits from one year of lees ageing and retails at the cellar door for just 7 Euros!

100% Chardonnay is a lovely pale gold colour with a nose that indicates longer lees ageing. On the palate more brioche like notes and hints of tropical fruit like banana and pineapple. Drinking well now this wine can be aged further. Slightly high price point at 8 Euros per bottle.

Pinot Noir/Chardonnay blend (assemblage) . 70% Pinot Noir and the rest Chardonnay. Very food friendly with more depth and complexity than either single grape Cuvée! Made in a classic champagne style with great balance of acidity and fruit flavours combined with a sophistication from the time on the lees, one of my favourites and a steel for any occasion at just 7.5 Euros per bottle.

The last 2 premier Cremant were not available for tasting but based on the experience of those that I did I thought was worth a punt!

Pinot and Chardonnay blend with 3 years of bottle ageing and just under 10 Euros a bottle!

A Sousbois oaked 100% Chardonnay Cremant with 3 years of bottle ageing and again a value price point of 13 Euros! Tasting notes to follow on these two when I crack them open on my return.

We try to visit another producer in the next village Domaine Brigand but they are just closing up for the evening. There's just enough time to taste two Cremants

A 100% Chardonnay (Carte Blanche 2012) and a Pinot Noir. The Pinot is well made with medium (+) acidity and hints of red fruit on the palate which follow through from the nose but the Chardonnay is a triumph! Pale gold in appearance with a dry taste and medium (+) acidity, hints of white flowers, apple and lemon on the nose which follow through on the palate with great balance, intensity and length. The 3 years of bottle ageing yield secondary notes of biscuit and brioche. A really lovely Cremant.

After the tasting we stop to see the veraison taking place on some of the Pinot vines near the caveau. We return to the Auchan supermarket and pick up some delicious local produce for our simple picnic to accompany our Cremant. A local pate with a pastry crust, some traditional Burgundian ham in parsley aspic, saucisson sec and some salad with celeriac and carrot remoulade. We are now fully equipped to dine like the Dukes of Burgundy!

With the perfect backdrop of a setting sun we sit down to our picnic with our bottle of classic Jean Girard Cremant. We are entertained by swifts tumbling across the sky feeding on a plethora of insects. Our soundtrack is birdsong and the quarter chimes of the church bells. It's perfect and idyllic! The picnic hits the spot too.

Panoramic Sunset Picnic

Sunset Church Bell Chimes

And now just to finish off ….. we fancy a little assiette du fromage and Jean-Noel the sommelier and restaurant manager of the Chateau du Courban obliges with a great cheese selection, he also has some sublime wine pairings.

Blue Fourme d' Ambert a rich creamy and intense cheese with salty undertone paired with a 12 year old Banyuls: deep ruby in colour with burnt rubber and dried cherry notes on the nose, off dry with medium plus acidity and notes of raisin and dried fruit on the palate.

Livarot and Epoisse with a Brumaire Juancon. Medium strength creamy cheeses with an umami tang that works brilliantly with the sweetness of the Jurancon which still has a background acidity.

The best pairing was the last and most classic. An aged Comte cheese with a 2005 Vin Jaune d'Arbois. It has an intense resinous oxidised nose, a beautiful deep gold appearance, this wine maturing well, dry, high acidity, full bodied, high alcohol, with very long finish and a lovely mouthfeel of hazelnuts. Outstanding!

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