The Bugey, halfway between Lyons and Geneva, is one of the tiniest and most obscure wine areas in France. Although the altitude is modest, the terrain is very mountainous, the roads are steep and winding as in the Alps, and the villages are built for cold winters – the houses made of gray/white limestone all bunched together on narrow streets. The vineyards are hard to detect, little patches here and there on steep slopes looking southeast or southwest, lost in the midst of grazing cows and dense forests.
The region’s star wine is the Cerdon Méthode Ancestrale, a semi-dry, pink bubbly made by spontaneous, but incomplete, fermentation. Alain and his son Elie make their Cerdon from Gamay and Poulsard, and follow the technique called “ancestral method.” The grapes are picked by hand, pressed and fermented in cold vats until the alcohol reaches about 6 degrees. After a light filtration that leaves most of the active yeast in the unfinished wine, it is bottled and continues its fermentation in the bottle, reaching about 7.5 or 8 degrees of alcohol and retaining a fair quantity of its original sugar. It is more vinous (with grapey primary aromas) than most Champagne.
What a treat, this very unusual but totally pleasurable wine is delicate, berry-scented, refreshing, and makes a delicious aperitif or dessert wine (even chocolate goes well with it). 7.5% abv.