"Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing''.Ernest Hemingway
Champagne Regionview region wines
The first wine was made in Champagne about 2,000 years ago. Champagne was already famous in the middle age. But it was not the same wine we use to drink these days. At that time, wine was red or white not sparkling, quite similar to wine from Burgundy. People used barrels to ship their wines. They noticed that the next spring season following the harvest, the wine tended to foam. It was not good for business.
The first Champagne was made in the 17th century. A monk called Dom Pérignon was the first to understand the process of Champagne fermentation and to elaborate the process. He managed to mix red and white grapes from different villages and therefore perfected the way winemakers at that time used to produce sparkling wine.
The grapes in Champagne benefit from a lot of light due to sunny summers and falls. 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. There 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. It is the typical grape used in great Burgundy white wines. It provides freshness and elegance.
- Pinot Noir is a red grape traditionally used in Burgundy to make their famous red wines. It brings fruitiness and aromas.
- Pinot Meunier is a red grape mostly used in Champagne. It gives a less delicate wine and is mostly used to make second grade Champagne. It gives body and structure.
The three main areas in Champagne are:
- Montagne de Reims: South of Reims city, where the best Pinot Noir grows.
- Cote des Blancs: South of Epernay city, where the best Chardonnay grows.
- Vallée de la Marne: West of Epernay city, where the best Pinot Meunier grows.
Most of the Champagne produced today is ‘’Non- vintage’’ meaning that it is a blended product of grapes from multiple vintages.
A cuvée de prestige is a proprietary blended wine (usually a Champagne) that is considered to be the top of a producer's range. Famous examples include Louis Roederer’s Cristal, Laurent-Perrier’s Grand siècle, Moet & Chanson’s Dom Perignon and Pol Roger’s Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill.
Blanc de noirs
A French term (literally "white of blacks") for a white wine produced entirely from black grapes. It is often encountered in Champagne, where a number of houses have followed the lead of Bollinger’s prestige cuvée Vieilles Vignes Françaises in introducing a cuvee made from either Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier or a blend of the two (these being the only two black grapes permitted within the Champagne AOC appellation).
Blanc de blancs
A French term that means "white of whites", and is used to designate Champagnes made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes. A famous example is Ruinart.
The rosé wines of Champagne are produced either by leaving the clear juice of black grapes to macerate on its skins for a brief time (known as the saigneé method) or, more commonly, by adding a small amount of still Pinot noir red wine to the sparkling wine cuvee. Due to the comparatively high risk and cost of using the saigneé or 'skin contact only' technique, there are very few producers who habitually do not add any additional red wine. These include Laurent-Perrier, Louis Roederer and Guy Charbaut.
Champagne is mostly fermented in two sizes of bottles, standard bottles (750 millilitres), and magnums (1.5 litres).view previous region view next region