ALISTAIR GIBSON: There's more to sparklers than Champagne and prosecco
One of the great wine stories of the past few years has been the almost unbelievable riseÂ in popularity, and thus sales, of prosecco.Â
Since 2008 the volume ofÂ sales in the UK have risen by more than 6,000 per cent.
It's been an unqualifiedÂ success but what's really interesting is that the sales of Champagne,Â although having slipped slightly, have not really suffered comparably.
Here in theÂ UK we are still the world's second largest consumers of Champagne, taking second place toÂ France.Â
What is also clear is that sparkling wine in the UK is no longer reservedÂ for weddings and other celebrations, it seems it's almost become a fridge staple.
What the rise of prosecco has also achieved is to allow consumers toÂ look at other fizzy alternatives and it would appear the French crÃ©mant is theÂ current benefactor of this.
It can be produced in a number of French regions,Â including Alsace, the Loire, Burgundy and Limoux.Â
Each region has its own style,Â making it perhaps a little more interesting to explore than prosecco, which can onlyÂ come from Italy's Veneto region.
It's generally made in the traditional ChampagneÂ method, and sales figures released by both Waitrose and Majestic show that crÃ©mant sales rose very strongly last year.
Here are a few to try while you push the prosecco bottle further back into the fridge.
Exquisite CrÃ©mant du Jura 2015 (Aldi Â£7.99) has appeared in this column beforeÂ but it continues to offer outstanding value-for-money and is the perfect steppingÂ stone into this category of fizz.
Jura is a region that sits between Burgundy andÂ Switzerland, which is beginning to gain more recognitionÂ for its sparklingÂ wines.
Made from 100Â per cent chardonnay, it's quite full-flavoured with a constantÂ stream of small bubbles, the nose shows citrus fruit and maybe even just a touch ofÂ brioche and spice.Â
The palate is quite creamy with fresh acidity and itÂ has greatÂ length for a wine at this price. L'Extra par Langlois Brut NV CrÃ©mant de LoireÂ (Majestic Â£13.99 or Â£10.99 if part of a mixed six) is made by Langlois-Chateau which is owned by Champagne Bollinger, so it has pretty good credentials!
Made from aÂ blend of chardonnay and chenin blanc, what I really like here is the freshness withÂ green apple and lemon to the fore. It's very clean with lively acidity and some real
elegance on the finish.
Bouvet Saumur RosÃ© Brut (Majestic Â£10.99 or Â£10.99 if part of a mixed six) is notÂ technically a crÃ©mant but worth including here as it's very similar in style.
It's producedÂ by Bouvet-Ladubay, one of the oldest houses in Saumur and made from cabernet franc.
The wine is pale pink with a good mousse, which looks lovely in the glass. There are soft red fruit notes and a little spice on the nose with a creamy palateÂ and a crisp finish.