The AOP Limoux

Crémant ready to pop

13 April, 2023

Moving from the smallest appellation by area to the biggest we come to Crémant de Loire, which runs along the Loire Valley through Nantes in western France.

Nicolas Moron from Domaine de Gagnebert says: “Sales are increasing in line with production, so I think we’re in a good wave right now. As a producer we have to change the perception of just being a cheap alternative to champagne because we have an excellent quality and therefore we need to improve our image and the price points. This has to be done step by step, because of course we have great potential but the main target is to prove our quality and also provide the volume to back it up.”

One of the biggest advantages the Loire Valley has over other appellations is the diversity of the grapes allowed in the production of its crémant, as well as the vast hectares available to growers. The region has a cultivation area of around 12,000ha and, while the likes of Limoux are concerned about climate change, for Loire it’s less of a problem because producers can be more selective, depending on the conditions of each vineyard that year.

However, while it’s a privilege to have such a vast cultivation zone, it comes at a cost when regulation states that the grapes must be picked by hand. Unsurprisingly, Moron has constant headaches when it comes to harvest time.

“One of our biggest issues is getting labour for harvesting – last year, just one week before harvest, we were still looking for 25% of labourers.” Moron believes a combination of troubles in Europe, from the pandemic to Brexit to the war in Ukraine, have limited the number of workers across the continent, and it’s something that the Loire Valley needs to resolve.

Orchidées, one of the biggest players in Crémant de Loire, produced around 4 million bottles last year under the two brands in its portfolio – Ackerman and Monmousseau. Isabelle Moreau, export director, says that Ackerman is basically only sold domestically, while Monmousseau is around 50% exports and a market leader in Japan. According to Moreau, the low price of crémant is very important for growing the category but, simultaneously, quality needs to prevail in order for crémant to grow overseas, so the top producers need to be reflected in their value.

“Crémant appellations are competitors, but there’s an understanding to work together, especially in new markets,” says Moreau.

Crémant d’Alsace

In direct contrast to Limoux’s popularity overseas, Crémant d’Alsace, the most northerly crémant appellation in France, is mostly driven by domestic sales. The wines are predominantly made up of Pinot Blanc and, similarly to Limoux, the crémant is produced in both white and rosé styles.

Rebecca Royal, export key account manager at Bestheim, one of the biggest crémant winemakers in the region selling around 13 million bottles in 2022, points out that the demographic of its consumers is a concern.

“One of the biggest challenges we face in Alsace is the age of our customers,” says Royal. “The Alsace region makes wines which are popular among the older generations and this is a problem in the long term.”

Digital Edition

Drinks International digital edition is available ahead of the printed magazine. Don’t miss out, make sure you subscribe today to access the digital edition and all archived editions of Drinks International as part of your subscription.


La'Mel Clarke

Service isn’t servitude: the skill of hosting

La’Mel Clarke, front of house at London’s Seed Library, looks at the forgotten art of hosting and why it deserves the same respect as bartending.