I love my job because it gives me so much chances of learning new stuff.
While preparing the new lesson on Italian sparkling wines I came by this label.
Despite its “French” sound, this is a rosé sparkling wine made primarily from Pinot Noir in the Oltrepò Pavese area, south Lombardy. Cruasé is a collective brand for this kind of wines and it indicates a traditional method rosé sparkler made under the Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico DOCG rules. To be fair the term still struggles to take off as a marketing tool, but it is often employed by local producers.
My attention was drawn by the word “Crémant” on the bottom. Curious, I thought when I first saw it, isn’t the term reserved just for French sparklers outside Champagne? Wine labelling is heavily regulated in Europe, you don’t put “Crémant” on the label and just go away with it. Why is there?
The Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico DOCG disciplinare (regulation) specifies that the term is allowed on the conditions specified by the existing law. It doesn’t tell us what these are, so I decided to look into the issue and made a short research.
I discovered a Commission Regulation by the European Community (No. 607/2009) implementing the Council Regulation (EC) No 479/2008 which states the rules to make the “Crémant” term appear on the label.
A bit surprisingly, being from France is not necessary: the wine must be a traditional method sparkling white or rosé from a geographic indication or a denomination of origin (which must be clearly specified on the label), so it can’t be generic. Furthermore harvest must be manual and the grape yield into wine during pressing cannot exceed 100 litres for 150 kg of grapes (a bit higher than Champagne which is 102 litres for 160 kg). Finally, the maximum residual sugar allowed is 50 g/l (demi-sec), thus no doux sparkling wine can bear this term.
Basically your “crémant” can hail from everywhere in Europe, as long as it respects the conditions above. Of course specific DOC/DOCG/AOC regulations can prevent the use of the name, like Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico, which reserves it only for its rosés.
My opinion: what were they trying to accomplish when they laid down these rules? Was EU trying to promote a sort of collective sparkling wine brand outside Champagne? In this case the attempt was basically a failure, as the single Countries seem more eager to promote their own terms (Sekt, Franciacorta, Prosecco) than to use a confusing French word for their wines. Oltrepò Pavese producers applies it sometimes, but I never really saw it anywhere else. That said, it could be useful for “new” EU Countries like Romania, Hungary or Czech Republic to boost their marketing presence on the shelves, especially on export markets.
A final remark: oddly enough Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico DOCG allows the use of Crémant on the label, but forbids the word “spumante”. Is the Italian word that bad?