Cerdon is one of four particular vineyard sites (or crus) which have been recognized as producing Bugey wines of particular quality and thus may append their names as part of the appellation title. Its parent title, Bugey, is the main appellation of the Ain administrative department, just west of Savoie in eastern France. Promoted to AOC status in 2009 after 50 years as VDQS, Bugey's new appellation laws identified Cerdon (as well as Montagnieu and Manicle) as the finest of its vineyard sites.
While the general Bugey title covers red, white, rose and sparkling wines, the four crus are each known for a particular style (or set of styles). Cerdon is probably the most widely recognized name of the entire Bugey portfolio, being the source of some rather unusual sweet pink sparkling wines. These are made in the methode ancestrale, which differs slightly from the methode traditionelle used in Champagne in that there is no second application of yeasts or sugars during production. This leaves the wines with a noticeable quantity of residual sugar and a distinctly grapey flavor. The technique is used in other sparkling wines around France, such as Blanquette de Limoux and Clairette de Die.
Cerdon is located in an area of chaotic topography – a tight patchwork of rounded hills, ridges and narrow valleys in the southern Jura Mountains. The vineyards here are divided between two key slopes: one immediately west of the village itself, the other a little way to the south. These steep, south-east-facing slopes, with their sunny aspect and free-draining soils, are perfect for ripening the Gamay and Poulsard grapes used to make Bugey Cerdon wines. The vines not only enjoy prolonged exposure to the sunshine; their south-easterly slant means they receive the gentler morning rays rather than the harsher afternoon sun. This, in turn, allows the grapes to ripen at a more leisurely pace, which means they retain a certain acidity by harvest time, when their flavors are at their peak. The residual sweetness left by the winemaking process easily counteracts this acid, making for a particularly flavorful sparkling wine.