Andrew Guard


Cerdon de Bugey is a delicious light pink demi-sec sparkling wine from the Bugey, found at the foot of the French Alps, made from the local Gamay and Poulsard grapes. Cerdon is scarce and as more and more people have started to discover how good it is it has become hard to procure. Mr. Renardat took a great deal of convincing that I should purchase some of his delicate, ethereal wine and send it in a ship all the way to Australia. He was concerned about the voyage; sure, it’s a long way. I explained that I would only ever be using ‘reefer’ containers and trucks (in France) and Kirsten stood and smiled. Finally he let me have 30 cases. I drove 500 km and came away with only 30 cases....I hope you like the wine!

The small French town of Merignat rests just near the Swiss border in a little-known VDQS called Bugey. The vineyards are hard to detect, little patches here and there on steep slopes looking southeast or southwest, lost in the midst of fields with grazing cows, and dense forests. The total Bugey acreage in vineyards is just 170 hectares. The varietals are many, borrowed from all the surrounding areas: Gamay, Poulsard (a grape from Northern Jura), Roussette, Mondeuse (both from Savoie) and Chardonnay. Many still wines are produced, but the region's star wine is the Cerdon Méthode Ancestrale, a semi-dry, pink bubbly made by spontaneous, but incomplete, fermentation. These wines are best consumed as young as possible to enjoy their freshness; they should not be cellared.

Alain Renardat is a respected vigneron in Cerdon, and, among others, he has been a long-time supplier of Alain Chapel's restaurant, in the Dombes. The Dombes, which, like the Bugey, is in the Ain department, is an area of ponds and marshes, known for its fish and birds. Alain Chapel, of his eponymous Restaurant, was a chef beloved among chefs, and famous for his love of wine and winemakers. A winemaker and his wines selected by Chapel are guaranteed to have great personality. Currently, cult Parisian Chef Yves Camdeborde (La Régalade, Le Comptoir) serves Renardat-Fâche Cerdon as a ‘pick me up’ at his restaurants after the meal.

Alain and his son Elie make their Cerdon from Gamay (90%) and Poulsard (10%), 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 and refreshing—there is no bad time to enjoy it.


Written by Andrew Guard — June 23, 2012