Future of France’s Oldest Sparkling Wine in Jeopardy

As affordable varieties of sparkling wine emerge the future of crémant is uncertain

Sparkling wines of Limoux, France has a history dating back nearly 500 years, but with competition rising they are focusing their efforts on more affordable brands.

With a history dating back almost 500 years, the sparkling wines of Limoux, France claim to be the oldest of their kind mentioned in official records,. Now the Limoux bubbly of southern France is fighting for its future as competitors from Spain offer more affordable options for quality sparkling wine that threaten the success of Limoux’s best.

In an attempt to stand its ground, the region is now offering more affordable options to compete with the cava, or champagne-like wine of northeastern Spain. Cava uses the three main grapes of the region, parellada, macabeo and xarello when developing its wine.

The sparkling wine of Limoux, also called crémant, offers a similar taste to champagne since both use the chardonnay grape but with a more affordable price tag. The new, even more inexpensive crémant options offered to combat growing competition are the Blanquette de Limoux Methode Ancestrale, a sweeter option most comparable to a chardonnay, and Blanquette de Limoux Brut, a drier variety.

“Crémant isn’t as known as champagne but it’s a lot cheaper,” said Victoria Kulinich a wine specialist at New York Vintners. “The difference between cava and crémant however, is the use of grapes, but they taste very similar.”

Champagne is the crème de la crème of sparking wine with crémant and cava as more affordable options. As cava becomes more popular, the Limoux wines are left vulnerable due to rising competition, said Kulinich.