I'm not so sure the casual wine consumer notices the term Cremant on California sparkling wines like Pacific Echo and Schramsberg.
Where does this term come from?
In short: Cremant is the term for sparkling wine made using the traditional (i.e. Champagne) method in a number of France's wine regions.
For example, traditionally-made bubbly from Burgundy is called, "Cremant de Bourgogne" (Burgundy Cremant). According to this site, this is the skinny on Burgundian Bubbly:
"There are about 100 producers of Cremant de Bourgogne. All grape varieties grown in Burgundy are permitted, but Gamay can make up no more than a fifth of the blend. Cremant from southern Burgundy tends to be full and soft in style, and a good alternative to more costly Champagne. Cremant from the north is lighter and crisper in style."
A couple of other Cremants of interest include:
Cremant d'Alsace (form Alsace) - made primarily from the Pinot Blanc grape (some also made with P. Gris & Chardonnay). Pinot Noir is used to make rose Cremant d'Alsace. There are both dry (brut) and off-dry (extra dry versions.)
Creman't d'Bordeaux (from Bordeaux)
It's good stuff - and usually available at quite reasonable prices.