On the Road with Crémants d'Alsace (#Winophiles)

Crémant sparkling wines are a great alternative to Champagne at wallet-friendly prices. Here I pair two of these lovely bubblies from Alsace with noodles dishes while on the road.


The wines in this post were provided as media samples. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.


I’m kind of a weirdo in that I tend to bring wine with me on road trips. I mean what if we land in a spot without a good wine store? The horror! What would we do?! No need to take chances when there’s room in the car for a case. Since I love bubbly, a few slots are typically taken up by sparkling wines. So in this way, bottles of Crémant d’Alsace ended up on two of our recent vacays. 


Crémants are a great class of wine to know about if you love bubbly and want to drink it on the regular, but can’t or don’t want to be shelling out for Champers all the time. These are French sparkling wines that are made by the same method as Champagne (i.e. traditional method) but from regions other than Champagne. One of the great things about them is that the price points on these wines begin in a much more wallet-friendly range that makes them conducive to everyday drinking. 


We’ve previously covered a lot of the background for the topics and themes in this post in the past, so for greater background and details I invite you to check out these posts:



Crémant d’Alsace


Map borrowed from Winefolly.com

Crémant d’Alsace is the most popular category of sparkling wines in France after Champagne. There were already several producers making traditional method sparkling wines in the region at the end of the 19th century, but their ranks have grown by leaps and bounds. The official Crémant d’Alsace AOC was established in 1976, and today there are over 500 producers making wine under the designation. Together, they produce about 45 million bottles per year, which accounts for about a quarter of the region’s production. That’s a lot of bubbly!


A variety of grapes can be used to make Crémant d’Alsace, and they may be using a blend of grapes (the case for the majority), or from a single variety (in which case, it must be stated on the label. Pinot Blanc is the most commonly used grape, and the others are Riesling, Pinot Gris, Auxerrois, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. Riesling brings aromatics and elegance to the blend, while Pinot Gris adds richness. Pinot Noir is the only grape used for the rosés and the Blancs de Noirs. It’s worth noting that Chardonnay is not allowed in Alsace AOC’s still wine, but is allowed in the bubblies thanks to its success in Champagne. 


As is the case with other Crémant appellations, the wines must be aged for a minimum of 9 months on the lees, but many producers age their wines further, and vintage versions, in particular, are likely to have been aged for much longer, giving them more body and extra toasty character. You’ll find wines in the full range of sparkling sweetness levels – extra-brut, brut, or sec, or demi-sec. (Note that, confusingly, while sec means “dry”, sec and demi-sec are actually the sweetest levels.) 



Vacay Wines and Meals


Somehow or another, both of the wines I’m sharing today ended up paired with Asian dishes. This wasn’t at all planned or intentional – the two trips were about eight months apart – however, I do think it speaks to the ability of sparkling wines to go way beyond the realm of aperitifs. Pop open your bubblies to have with dinner! 



Domaine Mittnacht Freres Cremant d'Alsace Extra  Brut with Scallops and Noodles in Sedona



Blend: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Auxerrois, Chardonnay. | Average Price: $24 | ABV: 12%  | Farming Practices: Biodynamic (Demeter certified) | Aging: 24 months on the lees 




The Domaine: Domaine Mittnacht is a family-run estate established in 1963. Today, it is run by Marc Mittnacht and his wife Paule, and their son Pierre. They have 11 hectares of vines spread over Hunawihr and Ribeauvillé. They have been farming organically and biodynamically for over 20 years.


The trip and the paring: Last fall, Greg and I took a southwestern route that took us to Sedona, which lives up to all the hype about how magical it is and then some. It actually surpasses the hype. We rented an Airbnb so that we could cook for ourselves since we were avoiding other humans due to the Zombie Apocalypse. 




Towards the end of our stay, I concocted this savory noodle dish with scallops and mushrooms. This in no way was intended to be an authentic dish of any kind, but just an attempt to make something tasty out of the ingredients I had available. I’ve put together a recipe which I’ve shared at the end, but you should really take this as a non-recipe/blueprint. The basic idea is that I mixed a bunch of things together that I thought would go well together and played with it until it tasted good. Feel free to add on as desired.



Tasting notes: Green apple, bright lemons, lime, chalk, and salt on the nose. These all come back on the palate leading into a chalky, minerally finish. 


How it worked: The fruit became rounder and more opulent with the food, with a hint of peach coming out in the pairing. The savory notes from the soy sauce worked as a pleasant contrast to the fruit character. Lovely.




Domaine Allimant-Laugner Cremant d'Alsace Brut with Crab and Glass Noodles with friends in Seattle




Blend: 60% Pinot Blanc, 30% Riesling, 10% Pinot Gris | Average Price: $17  | ABV: 12.3%  | Farming Practices: Sustainable |  Aging: 18 months on the lees | Additional details: Natural yeast fermentation, no malolactic


The Domaine: The origins of Domaine Allimant-Laugner go back to 17th century and two wine-growing families – the Laugners and the Allimants. Charles Allimant began bottling his own wines in 1949, and developed their distribution along with his daughter Mariette (who is still involved today) and her husband René Laugner. Their eldest son Hubert took over in 1984, along with his wife Françoise, and gave the winery its current name. Their son Nicolas joined in 2013. 


The trip and the paring: This summer we went north and did a little loop of the Pacific Northwest. We stopped in Seattle for a few days, where we had a chance to see my friend Pam and her family.




Pam was the star of my culinary school class and her Instagram is always showcasing gorgeous, elaborate feasts, so I knew we were in for a treat. 




And indeed, she whipped up a crab feast on a rigged up BBQ of her own design and made the whole thing look effortless. I asked her to share the menu from that day to the best of her recollection:

  • Thai Glass Noodle with Dungeness Crab (aka Poo Ob Woon Sen) 
  • LA Galbi with a homemade marinade made with apples instead of the more traditional Asian pear. 

  • Grilled Pacific Saury (aka mackerel pike) with spicy Thai dip (aka Prik Nam Pla).

Tasting notes: Ok, you got me. I was too busy catching up with my friend, who I hadn’t seen in 6 years to write a proper note. I do recall that it was on the more tart and crisp end of the spectrum.


How it worked: Once again, the wine seemed to flesh out a little with the noodle dish and I was really delighting in the pairing, as well as the company. The fish brought out more of its minerality. 


We paired the Galbi with a Merlot from Long Shadows Vintners. 



non-recipe, easy recipe, noodles, scallops, shiitake, mushrooms
dinner
Asian
Servings: 2-4
By: Nicole Ruiz Hudson
Scallops with Shiitakes, Garlic, and Miso Noodles

Scallops with Shiitakes, Garlic, and Miso Noodles

Take this as a non-recipe. I give some general ranges here that should work for about 2 to 4 servings, but I didn’t really take proper measurements. Just mix and adjust the components until they taste good. Feel free to add on as desired.

Ingredients

  • Asian noodles of your choice (I think I used Lo Mein Noodles here)
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp white miso paste
  • ⅛ cup soy sauce
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 4 to 5 large scallops/person, cleaned and dried on paper towels
  • 1 to 2 lbs shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves
  • 2- 4 Tbsp green onions, plus more for garnish

Instructions

  1. Prepare noodles according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Mix together the miso paste, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Taste and adjust to your preference. Set aside.
  3. Heat the peanut oil and butter in a large saute pan. Add the scallops a sear until golden brown, flip, and sear on the second side. Transfer the scallops out of the pan and set aside.
  4. Deglaze the pan with a little rice vinegar or water. Add the mushrooms and saute until softened and cooked through. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute. Add the noodles, scallops, sauce, and green onions to the pan and toss it all to combine.
  5. Divide the noodle mixture into bowls. Garnish with additional green onions if desired.
Did you make this recipe?
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For more Cremant wines with pairings, check out:

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The French Winophiles (#Winophiles) are exploring the Crémant wines this month. Check out the rest of their posts:


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2 comments

  1. Sometimes I shock myself with the amount of wine I throw in the car before heading up to the lake, but one must be prepared. The wine shops up in Brainerd? (shudder)

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're not the only one who takes along wine when visiting a "wine wasteland". We actually had wine shipped from CA to OK for our last family reunion! Totally agree about sparkling wines ability to go way beyond the realm of aperitifs!

    ReplyDelete

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