A good glass of wine contributes to the friendly atmosphere in many occasions. The sparkling wine is the wine of celebration par excellence. Crémant d’Alsace is riding high. The village of Riquewihr, with the estate Dopff Au Moulin has been the birthplace of sparkling wine in Alsace for more than 100 years !
A 40th anniversary that crowns a much older tradition…
1976 is the year of birth of the appellation Crémant d’Alsace. At the time, 40 years ago, young journalism student in Strasbourg, I occasionally launched an expedition into the “distant” vineyard on the side of Riquewihr and Eguisheim. As much for the beauty of villages and landscapes as for the wine from elsewhere… I remember a bubble wine that tried a breakthrough (and in our student festivals) as a cheap alternative to Champagne that was a luxury out of reach of our purses.
2016 — Time has passed, the wines have changed, those who drink them and those who produce them too. But the necessity of partying has remained. So many good moments that should be celebrated by raising a flute filled with joyful bubbles! A wine that sparkles! This is essential ! But by what enchantment do these bubbles make us so cheerful? Simply because the effervescence makes the alcohol more readily assimilable in the blood.
The truth was revealed to me a long time ago.
Read more about Crémant d’Alsace, how it is born and how it beacame the wine of celebration.
Pilgrimage to the sources of a sparkling wine!
The history of Crémant d’Alsace did not begin with a spontaneous appearance in the summer of 1976. The birth of the appellation Crémant d’Alsace was the completion of a long history of effort and tenacity. In fact, the Crémant d’Alsace draws its roots in the tradition of Champagne…
Champagne in Riquewihr!
It was then that a young man of Riquewihr, Julien Dopff, only 18 years old, visited in the year 1900 the Universal Exhibition of Paris with his father. Young heir of a family estate created in 1574, he is fascinated by a demonstration of the new technique of disgorging made by champagne winemakers.
Julien Dopff succeeded in convincing his father and spent 2 years in Champagne to become familiar with the production of Champagne. Back in Riquewihr, he will develop and market a “Champagne Dopff” made in Alsace. The musts were bought in Champagne and “imported” in Alsace (then in Germany) for vinification. Vinification, bottling and foaming were done at their Riquewihr cellars. An office in Epernay served as a springboard to the French market and countries outside Germany.
A journey of struggle for the pioneers of the appellation Crémant d’Alsace
Pierre Dopff, son of Julien, then Pierre-Etienne, son of Pierre, produced sparkling wine since the beginning of the 20th century. In the 1970s, three other estates also tried to produce sparkling wine. In Alsace, in the early 1970s, only four estates produced a total of 500,000 bottles of sparkling wine.
Certainly, the appellation of origin “vins d’Alsace” was obtained in 1962 but unfortunately, the decree had “forgotten” to mention sparkling wines! Consequently the wines of Alsace once transformed in sparkling wines lost their appellation Vin d’Alsace. It was impossible on the label to distinguish them from the huge crowd of low-level sparkling wines!
As production accelerated rapidly, it became urgent to get the appellation. In 1974, the four pioneering estates of Alsace (Wofberger, Westhalten, Dopff Au Moulin and Sparr, two cooperative wineries and two wine merchants) joined their forces to promote their work, to shake up the national bureaucracy and to obtain that sparkling wine produced in Alsace could retain the name Vin d’Alsace. But the problem of the name “mousseux” remained intact.
After obtaining the authorization for wines of “appellation controlee” produced according to the method champenoise it was necessary to find a name for this sparkling wine of quality…
Someone then proposed the term “Crémant”, a Champagne term that once referred to a Champagne with light foam, therefore a wine of high quality. Discussions started with the Champagne authorities who agreed to authorize the use of the term “Crémant”.
The success of the operation went through an indisputable quality that allows producers to earn money from this wine without being tempted to switch to wines of lower quality but more profitable. A law was needed to confirm and secure the process. Finally the appellation “Crémant d’Alsace” was born on the 24th of August 1976.
And finally, success!
Today, 40 years after the creation of the appellation, the Crémant d’Alsace producers’ union has more than 500 members.
Today more than one in four bottles of wine produced in Alsace is a Crémant. What is the key to success of this rising wine, rising … like its bubbles?
In my next article I will tell you what is in the bottle. Stay tuned.
Your accommodation in Riquewihr, in the heart of the vineyard
Our most beautiful holiday apartments in Riquewihr are housed in the historic buildings of an old wine estate from 1580, facing the vineyard Grand Cru Schoenenbourg.
Les Remparts de Riquewihr
9 rue des Cordiers, 68340 Riquewihr – www.remparts-de-riquewihr.com