Cerdon is one of three named vineyards in the Bugey appellation of the southern Jura mountains. In stark contrast to the light, alpine white wines that Bugey and Savoie are famous for, Bugey Cerdon wines are exclusively sparkling rosés made from the Gamay and Poulsard grape varieties. These floral, slightly sweet rosés have become one of the most famous wines made in this part of eastern France.
The Cerdon cru covers the vineyards that surround the small village of Cerdon within the Ain administrative department. The village 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, southeast-facing slopes, with their sunny aspect and free-draining soils, are perfect for ripening the grapes. The vines not only enjoy prolonged exposure to the sunshine; their southeasterly 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.
Bugey Cerdon wines 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.
The Bugey appellation was promoted to AOC status in 2009 following 50 years as VDQS. The Cerdon cru, along with Manicle and Montagnieu, has been singled out as producing Bugey wines of particular quality and thus may append its name as part of the appellation title.