CHAMPAGNE & SPARKLING

Champagne wine, as we know it today, was created by a monk called Dom Perignon during the 17th century. He managed to understand the typical fermentation, mix the grape varieties, invent the cork and add sugar which dissolve the carbonic gas in the wine.

Summer and fall are quite sunny. The grapes in Champagne benefit from a lot of light. The soil made of chalk reflects the sunlight into the the grapes.

The chalky soil is ideal for Champagne wine. It absorbs water during winter and gives it back to the vine's roots during summer. The other way around, it absorbs heat during summer to give it back during winter.

The soil of Champagne is very famous for the cellars winemakers have built. They are about 200 kilometers of cellars dig in the chalk soil. They use these cellars to store the bottles at the perfect temperature and humidity level.

Winemakers use 3 types of grape to produce Champagne. Chardonnay is a white grape. Chardonnay is the typical grape used in great Burgundy white wines. Pinot Noir is a red grape traditionally used in Burgundy to make their famous red wines. Pinot Meunier is a red grape mostly used in Champagne. Pinot Meunier gives a less delicate wine and is mostly used to make second grade Champagne.

- Chardonnay provides freshness and elegance

- Pinot Meunier brings fruitiness and aromas

- Pinot Noir gives body and structure

The three main areas in Champagne are :

              - Montagne de Reims : south of Reims city, where the best Pinot Noir grow

- Cote des Blancs : south of Epernay city, where the best Chardonnay grow

- Vallée de la Marne : west of Epernay city, where the best Pinot Meunier grow

It is one of the main reason why winemakers blend grapes from these 3 different terroirs to come up with the best grape juices

Other types of Champagne:

Blanc de Blancs :
This Champagne is made only with Chardonnay (white grape). There are only a few bottles made and there are quite expensive. The wine is more delicate than regular Champagne. It is the best aperitif wine available in France.

Blanc de Noirs :
This Champagne is made with black grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Most of the time, there is only Pinot Noir. Very few bottles are available, even less than Blanc de blancs.

Champagne Rosé :
Pink Champagne is made with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. Winemakers add a little bit of red wine during blending. Red wine is usually coming from Bouzy, a typical Pinot Noir still wine from Champagne. Do not confuse Pink Champagne with Rosé des Riceys which is a true rosé wine.

How Champagne is made ?

1: alcoholic fermentation
Conversion of natural sugar into alcohol, the grape juice turns into still wine.

2: assembling the wine
Liquid from different harvests, from different areas are blend together.

3: bottling
The Champagne is put in bottle with yeast and sugar.

4: malolactic fermentation
he yeasts turn sugar into alcohol and CO2. The carbon dioxide (CO2) cannot escape from the bottle and is dissolved in the Champagne, forming the bubbles.

5: maturation
Champagne bottles are stored horizontally in natural cool and dark chalk cellar for 1 to 3 years.

6: dégorgement
During maturation, the winemaker rotates the bottles every day to remove the lees.

 

A Champagne bottle should mature in a cellar for one to two years.

- Doux (means sweet), 4% and more of sugar
- Demi-sec (fairly sweet), 2.5 to 5% of sugar
- Sec (sweet/dry), 1.75 to 2.5% of sugar
- Extra sec (medium dry), 1.5 to 2% of sugar
- Brut (dry), 0.5 to 1.5% of sugar, the most common Champagne these days
- Extra brut (very dry), 0 to 0.5% of sugar

Tasting Champagne :

Champagne is traditionally served in a typical glass called flute or in a tulip: a long stem with a tall glass. This kind of glass prevents the aromas to unfold. The height of the glass is necessary for the bubbles to rise to the surface and keep a constant temperature.

It is not recommended to pour Champagne to the top of the glasses but only up to 2/3 of the glass.

Champagne is always served cold and chilled. But not too cold, otherwise the wine is not able to release its aromas.

A non-vintage Champagne should be drunk at 8 °C (46 °F). A vintage Champagne at 10 °C (50 °F).

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