Champagne

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A glass of Champagne exhibiting the characteristic bubbles associated with the wine Glass of champagne.jpg
A glass of Champagne exhibiting the characteristic bubbles associated with the wine

Champagne ( /ʃæmˈpn/ , French:  [ʃɑ̃paɲ] ) is a sparkling wine produced in the Champagne wine region of France under the rules of the appellation, [1] that demand specific vineyard practices, sourcing of grapes exclusively from designated places within it, specific grape-pressing methods and secondary fermentation of the wine in the bottle to cause carbonation. [2]

Contents

Vineyards in the Champagne region of France A village with vineyards in Champagne, France 1987.jpg
Vineyards in the Champagne region of France

The grapes Pinot noir, Pinot meunier, and Chardonnay are used to produce almost all Champagne, but small amounts of Pinot blanc, Pinot gris, Arbane, and Petit Meslier are vinified as well.

Champagne became associated with royalty in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. The leading manufacturers made efforts to associate their Champagnes with nobility and royalty through advertising and packaging, which led to its popularity among the emerging middle class. [1]

Origins

Jean Francois de Troy's 1735 painting Le Dejeuner d'Huitres
(The Oyster Luncheon) is the first known depiction of Champagne in painting De Troy Oyster Lunch.PNG
Jean François de Troy's 1735 painting Le Déjeuner d'Huîtres (The Oyster Luncheon) is the first known depiction of Champagne in painting

Still wines from the Champagne region were known before medieval times. The Romans were the first to plant vineyards in this area of north-east France, with the region being tentatively cultivated by the 5th century. In fact, cultivation was initially slow due to the unpopular edict by Emperor Domitian that all colonial vines must be uprooted. When Emperor Probus, the son of a gardener, rescinded the edict, a temple to Bacchus was erected, and the region started to produce a light, fruity, red wine that contrasted with heavier Italian brews often fortified with resin and herbs. [3] Later, churches owned vineyards and monks produced wine for use in the sacrament of Eucharist. French kings were traditionally anointed in Reims, and champagne was served as part of coronation festivities. The Champenois were envious of the reputation of the wines made by their Burgundian neighbours to the south and sought to produce wines of equal acclaim. However, the northerly climate of the region gave the Champenois a unique set of challenges in making red wine. At the far extremes of sustainable viticulture, the grapes would struggle to ripen fully and often would have bracing levels of acidity and low sugar levels. The wines would be lighter bodied and thinner than the Burgundy wines they were seeking to outdo. [4]

Contrary to legend and popular belief, Dom Pérignon did not invent sparkling wine, though he did make important contributions to the production and quality of both still and sparkling Champagne wines. [5] [6] The oldest recorded sparkling wine is Blanquette de Limoux, which was apparently invented by Benedictine monks in the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire, near Carcassonne in 1531. [7] They achieved this by bottling the wine before the initial fermentation had ended. Over a century later, the English scientist and physician Christopher Merret documented the addition of sugar to a finished wine to create a second fermentation, six years before Dom Pérignon set foot in the Abbey of Hautvillers. Merret presented a paper at the Royal Society, in which he detailed what is now called méthode traditionnelle , in 1662. [8] Merret's discoveries coincided also with English glass-makers' technical developments that allowed bottles to be produced that could withstand the required internal pressures during secondary fermentation. French glass-makers at this time could not produce bottles of the required quality or strength. As early as 1663 the poet Samuel Butler referred to "brisk champagne". [9]

In France the first sparkling champagne was created accidentally; the pressure in the bottle led it to be called "the devil's wine" (le vin du diable), as bottles exploded or corks popped. At the time, bubbles were considered a fault. In 1844 Adolphe Jaquesson invented the muselet to prevent the corks from blowing out. Initial versions were difficult to apply and inconvenient to remove. [10] [11] Even when it was deliberately produced as a sparkling wine, champagne was for a very long time made by the méthode rurale, where the wine was bottled before the initial fermentation had finished. Champagne did not use the méthode champenoise until the 19th century, about 200 years after Merret documented the process. The 19th century saw an exponential growth in champagne production, going from a regional production of 300,000 bottles a year in 1800 to 20 million bottles in 1850. [12] In 2007, champagne sales hit an all-time record of 338.7 million bottles. [13]

In the 19th century champagne was noticeably sweeter than the champagnes of today. The trend towards drier champagne began when Perrier-Jouët decided not to sweeten his 1846 vintage before exporting it to London. The designation Brut Champagne was created for the British in 1876. [14]

Right to the name Champagne

The Champagne appellation highlighted in red Anbau champagner.png
The Champagne appellation highlighted in red

The Champagne winemaking community, under the auspices of the Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne (CIVC), has developed a comprehensive set of rules and regulations for all wine produced in the region to protect its economic interests. They include codification of the most suitable growing places; the most suitable grape types (most Champagne is a blend of up to three grape varieties, though other varieties are allowed); and a lengthy set of requirements specifying most aspects of viticulture. This includes pruning, vineyard yield, the degree of pressing, and the time that wine must remain on its lees before bottling. It can also limit the release of Champagne to market to maintain prices. Only when a wine meets these requirements may it be labelled Champagne. The rules agreed upon by the CIVC are submitted for the final approval of the Institut national de l'origine et de la qualité (formerly the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine, INAO).

In 2007 the INAO, the government organization that controls wine appellations in France, was preparing to make the largest revision of the region's legal boundaries since 1927, in response to economic pressures. With soaring demand and limited production of grapes, Champagne houses say the rising price could produce a consumer backlash that would harm the industry for years into the future. That, along with political pressure from villages that want to be included in the expanded boundaries, led to the move. Changes are subject to significant scientific review and are said to not impact Champagne produced grapes until 2020. [15]

Use of the word Champagne

1915 English magazine illustration of a lady riding a Champagne cork (Lordprice Collection) Grape-Shot.jpg
1915 English magazine illustration of a lady riding a Champagne cork (Lordprice Collection)

Sparkling wines are produced worldwide, but many legal structures reserve the word Champagne exclusively for sparkling wines from the Champagne region, made in accordance with Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne regulations. In the European Union and many other countries the name Champagne is legally protected by the Madrid system under an 1891 treaty, which reserved it for the sparkling wine produced in the eponymous region and adhering to the standards defined for it as an appellation d'origine contrôlée ; the protection was reaffirmed in the Treaty of Versailles after World War I. Similar legal protection has been adopted by over 70 countries. Most recently Australia, [16] Chile, Brazil, Canada and China passed laws or signed agreements with Europe that limit the use of the term "Champagne" to only those products produced in the Champagne region. The United States bans the use from all new U.S.-produced wines. [17] Only those that had approval to use the term on labels before 2006 may continue to use it and only when it is accompanied by the wine's actual origin (e.g., "California"). [17] The majority of US-produced sparkling wines do not use the term Champagne on their labels, [18] and some states, such as Oregon, [19] ban producers in their states from using the term.

In the United States name protection of wine-growing place names is becoming more important. Several key U.S. wine regions, such as those in California (Napa, Sonoma Valley, Paso Robles), Oregon, and Walla Walla, Washington, came to consider the remaining semi-generic labels as harmful to their reputations (cf. Napa Declaration on Place).

Even the terms méthode champenoise and Champagne method were forbidden by an EU court decision in 1994. [20] As of 2005 the description most often used for sparkling wines using the second fermentation in the bottle process, but not from the Champagne region, is méthode traditionnelle. Sparkling wines are produced worldwide, and many producers use special terms to define them: Spain uses Cava , Italy designates it spumante , and South Africa uses cap classique. An Italian sparkling wine made from the Muscat grape uses the DOCG Asti and from the Glera grape the DOCG Prosecco . In Germany, Sekt is a common sparkling wine. Other French wine regions cannot use the name Champagne: e.g., Burgundy and Alsace produce Crémant . In 2008, more than 3,000 bottles of sparkling wine produced in California labelled with the term "Champagne" were destroyed by Belgian government authorities. [21]

Regardless of the legal requirements for labeling, extensive education efforts by the Champagne region, and the use of alternative names by non-Champagne sparkling wine producers, some consumers and wine sellers, including "Korbels California Champagne", use Champagne as a generic term for white sparkling wines, regardless of origin.

The village of Champagne, Switzerland, has traditionally made a still wine labelled as "Champagne", the earliest records of viticulture dated to 1657. In an accord with the EU, the Swiss government conceded in 1999 that by 2004 the village would phase out use of the name. Sales dropped from 110,000 bottles a year to 32,000 after the change. In April 2008 the villagers resolved to fight against the restriction following a Swiss open-air vote. [22]

In the Soviet Union all sparkling wines were called шампанское (shampanskoe, Russian for "that, which is of Champagne"). The name is still used today for some brands of sparkling wines produced in former Soviet republics, such as Sovetskoye Shampanskoye and Rossiyskoe Shampanskoe. In 2021, Russia banned the use of the designation шампанское for imported sparkling wine, including sparkling wine produced in the Champagne wine region, reserving the designation for domestically produced sparkling wine only. [23] [24]

Production

Le Remueur: 1889 engraving of the man engaged in the daily task of turning each bottle a fraction Champagne-Remuer.jpg
Le Remueur: 1889 engraving of the man engaged in the daily task of turning each bottle a fraction

Méthode Traditionnelle Formerly known as Méthode Champenoise, (This however was changed in 1994 by the EU) can also be called Méthode Classique. This is the traditional method by which Champagne is produced. After primary fermentation and bottling, a second alcoholic fermentation occurs in the bottle. This second fermentation is induced by adding several grams of yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and rock sugar to the bottle - although each brand has its own secret recipe. [25] According to the appellation d'origine contrôlée a minimum of 1.5 years is required to completely develop all the flavour. For years where the harvest is exceptional, a millésime is declared and some Champagne will be made from and labelled as the products of a single vintage rather than a blend of multiple years' harvests. This means that the Champagne will be very good and has to mature for at least 3 years. During this time the Champagne bottle is sealed with a crown cap similar to that used on beer bottles. [1]

After aging, the bottle is manipulated, either manually or mechanically, in a process called remuage (or "riddling" in English), so that the lees settle in the neck of the bottle. After chilling the bottles, the neck is frozen, and the cap removed. This process is called disgorgement. The pressure in the bottle forces out the ice containing the lees. Some wine from previous vintages and additional sugar (le dosage) is added to maintain the level within the bottle and adjust the sweetness of the finished wine. The bottle is then quickly corked to maintain the carbon dioxide in solution. [1]

Bubbles

Bubbles from rose Champagne Rose Champagne Bubbles.jpg
Bubbles from rosé Champagne

An initial burst of effervescence occurs when the Champagne contacts the dry glass on pouring. These bubbles form on imperfections in the glass that facilitate nucleation or, to a minimal extent, on cellulose fibres left over from the wiping/drying process as shown with a high-speed video camera. [26] However, after the initial rush, these naturally occurring imperfections are typically too small to consistently act as nucleation points as the surface tension of the liquid smooths out these minute irregularities. The nucleation sites that act as a source for the ongoing effervescence are not natural imperfections in the glass, but actually occur where the glass has been etched by the manufacturer or the customer. This etching is typically done with acid, a laser, or a glass etching tool from a craft shop to provide nucleation sites for continuous bubble formation (note that not all glasses are etched in this way). In 1662 this method was developed in England, as records from the Royal Society show.

Dom Pérignon was originally charged by his superiors at the Abbey of Hautvillers to get rid of the bubbles since the pressure in the bottles caused many of them to burst in the cellar. [27] As sparkling wine production increased in the early 18th century, cellar workers had to wear a heavy iron mask to prevent injury from spontaneously bursting bottles. The disturbance caused by one bottle exploding could cause a chain reaction, with it being routine for cellars to lose 20–90% of their bottles this way. The mysterious circumstance surrounding the then unknown process of fermentation and carbonic gas caused some critics to call the sparkling creations "The Devil's Wine". [28]

Champagne uncorking captured via high-speed photography Champagne uncorking photographed with a high speed air-gap flash.jpg
Champagne uncorking captured via high-speed photography

Champagne producers

There are more than one hundred Champagne houses and 19,000 smaller vignerons (vine-growing producers) in Champagne. These companies manage some 32,000 hectares of vineyards in the region. The type of Champagne producer can be identified from the abbreviations followed by the official number on the bottle: [29]

Marketing Champagne

An Edwardian English advertisement for Champagne, listing honours and royal drinkers Laurent-Perrier-1905.jpg
An Edwardian English advertisement for Champagne, listing honours and royal drinkers

In the 19th century, Champagne was produced and promoted to mark contemporary political events, for example, the Franco-Russian Alliance of 1893, and Tennis Court Oath to mark the centennial of French Revolution. [30] By selling champagne as a nationalist ideology, négociant manages to associate champagne with leisure activities and sporting events. In addition, négociant successfully appeal champagne to broader consumers by introducing the different qualities of sparkling wine, associating champagne brands with royalty and nobility, and selling off-brands under the name of the importer from France at a lower cost. Though selling off-brands at a lower expense proved to be unsuccessful since "there was an assumption that cheap sparkling wine was not authentic." [30] From the start to end of Belle Époque period, champagne has gone from a regional product with a niche market audience to a national commodity that distributed globally.

A large popularity of Champagne is attributed to the success of Champagne producers in marketing the wine's image as a royal and aristocratic drink. Laurent-Perrier's advertisements in late 1890 boasted their Champagne was the favourite of Leopold II of Belgium, George I of Greece, Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Margaret Cambridge, Marchioness of Cambridge, and John Lambton, 3rd Earl of Durham, among other nobles, knights, and military officers. Despite this royal prestige, Champagne houses also portrayed Champagne as a luxury enjoyable by anyone, for any occasion. [31] This strategy worked, and, by the turn of the 20th century, the majority of Champagne drinkers were middle class. [32]

In the 19th century, Champagne producers made a concentrated effort to market their wine to women. This is done by having the sweeter champagne associates with female, whereas the dry champagne with male and foreign markets. [30] This was in stark contrast to the traditionally "male aura" that the wines of France had—particularly Burgundy and Bordeaux. Laurent-Perrier again took the lead in this area with advertisements touting their wine's favour with the Countess of Dudley, the wife of the 9th Earl of Stamford, the wife of the Baron Tollemache, and the opera singer Adelina Patti. Champagne labels were designed with images of romantic love and marriage as well as other special occasions that were deemed important to women, such as the baptism of a child. [33]

In some advertisements, the Champagne houses catered to political interest such as the labels that appeared on different brands on bottles commemorating the centennial anniversary of the French Revolution of 1789. On some labels there were flattering images of Marie Antoinette that appealed to the conservative factions of French citizens that viewed the former queen as a martyr. On other labels there were stirring images of Revolutionary scenes that appealed to the liberal left sentiments of French citizens. As World War I loomed, Champagne houses put images of soldiers and countries' flags on their bottles, customizing the image for each country to which the wine was imported. During the Dreyfus affair, one Champagne house released a champagne antijuif with antisemitic advertisements to take advantage of the wave of Antisemitism that hit parts of France. [34]

Champagne is typically drunk during celebrations. For example, British Prime Minister Tony Blair held a Champagne reception to celebrate London winning the right to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. [35] It is also used to launch ships when a bottle is smashed over the hull during the ship's launch. If the bottle fails to break this is often thought to be bad luck.

Grape varieties and styles

Champagne is a single appellation d'origine contrôlée . As a general rule, grapes used must be the white Chardonnay, or the dark-skinned "red wine grapes" Pinot noir or Pinot Meunier, which, due to the gentle pressing of the grapes and absence of skin contact during fermentation, usually also yield a white base wine. Most Champagnes, including Rosé wines, are made from a blend of all three grapes, although blanc de blancs ("white from whites") Champagnes are made from 100% Chardonnay and blanc de noirs ("white from blacks") Champagnes are made solely from Pinot noir, Pinot Meunier or a mix of the two. [29]

Four other grape varieties are permitted, mostly for historical reasons, as they are rare in current usage. The 2010 version of the appellation regulations lists seven varieties as allowed, Arbane, Chardonnay, Petit Meslier, Pinot blanc, Pinot gris, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot noir. [36] The sparsely cultivated varieties (0.02% of the total vines planted in Champagne) of Arbanne, Petit Meslier, and Pinot blanc can still be found in modern cuvées from a few producers. [37] Previous directives of INAO make conditional allowances according to the complex laws of 1927 and 1929, and plantings made before 1938. [38] Before the 2010 regulations, the complete list of the actual and theoretical varieties also included Pinot de Juillet and Pinot Rosé. [39] The Gamay vines of the region were scheduled to be uprooted by 1942, but due to World War II, this was postponed until 1962, [40] and this variety is no longer allowed in Champagne. [36]

The dark-skinned Pinot noir and Pinot meunier give the wine its length and backbone. They are predominantly grown in two areas – the Montagne de Reims and the Vallée de la Marne. The Montagne de Reims run east–west to the south of Reims, in northern Champagne. They are notable for north-facing chalky slopes that derive heat from the warm winds rising from the valleys below. The River Marne runs west–east through Champagne, south of the Montagne de Reims. The Vallée de la Marne contains south-facing chalky slopes. Chardonnay gives the wine its acidity and biscuit flavour. Most Chardonnay is grown in a north–south-running strip to the south of Épernay, called the Côte des Blancs , including the villages of Avize, Oger and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger . These are east-facing vineyards, with terroir similar to the Côte de Beaune . The various terroirs account for the differences in grape characteristics and explain the appropriateness of blending juice from different grape varieties and geographical areas within Champagne, to get the desired style for each Champagne house. [29]

Types of Champagne

Champagne appellation Vignobles champagne.svg
Champagne appellation

Most of the Champagne produced today is "Non-vintage", meaning that it is a blended [41] product of grapes from multiple vintages. Most of the base will be from a single year vintage with producers blending anywhere from 10 to 15% (even as high as 40%) of wine from older vintages. [29] If the conditions of a particular vintage are favourable, some producers will make a vintage wine that must be composed of 100% of the grapes from that vintage year. [42] Under Champagne wine regulations, houses that make both vintage and non-vintage wines are allowed to use no more than 80% of the total vintage's harvest for the production of vintage Champagne. This allows at least 20% of the harvest from each vintage to be reserved for use in non-vintage Champagne. This ensures a consistent style that consumers can expect from non-vintage Champagne that does not alter too radically depending on the quality of the vintage. In less than ideal vintages, some producers will produce a wine from only that single vintage and still label it as non-vintage rather than as "vintage" since the wine will be of lesser quality and the producers have little desire to reserve the wine for future blending. [29]

Prestige cuvée

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, Moët & Chandon 's Dom Pérignon, Duval-Leroy's Cuvée Femme, Armand de Brignac Gold Brut, and Pol Roger's Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill. Perhaps the first publicly available prestige cuvée was Moët & Chandon's Dom Pérignon, launched in 1936 with the 1921 vintage. Until then, Champagne houses produced different cuvées of varying quality, but a top-of-the-range wine produced to the highest standards (and priced accordingly) was a new idea. In fact, Louis Roederer had been producing Cristal since 1876, but this was strictly for the private consumption of the Russian tsar. Cristal was made publicly available with the 1945 vintage. Then came Taittinger's Comtes de Champagne (first vintage 1952), and Laurent-Perrier's Grand Siècle 'La Cuvée' in 1960, a blend of three vintages (1952, 1953, and 1955) and Perrier Jouët's La Belle Époque. In the last three decades of the 20th century, most Champagne houses followed these with their own prestige cuvées, often named after notable people with a link to that producer and presented in non-standard bottle shapes (following Dom Pérignon's lead with its 18th-century revival design).

Blanc de noirs

A French term (literally "white from blacks" or "white of blacks") for a white wine produced entirely from black grapes. The flesh of grapes described as black or red is white; grape juice obtained after minimal possible contact with the skins produces essentially white wine, with a slightly yellower colour than wine from white grapes. The colour, due to the small amount of red skin pigments present, is often described as white-yellow, white-grey, or silvery. Blanc de noirs 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 cuvée 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 Grand Cru blanc de blancs Champagne Blanc de blanc grand Cru champagne.jpg
A Grand Cru blanc de blancs Champagne

A French term that means "white from whites", and is used to designate Champagnes made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes or in rare occasions from Pinot blanc (such as La Bolorée from Cedric Bouchard). The term is occasionally used in other sparkling wine-producing regions, usually to denote Chardonnay-only wines rather than any sparkling wine made from other white grape varieties. [29]

Rosé Champagne

Rosé Champagnes are characterized by their distinctive blush color, fruity aroma, and earthy flavor. Rosé Champagne has been produced since the late 18th century; storied French Champagne houses Rinault and Veuve Clicquot have each claimed to have shipped and sold the first bottles. [43] The wine is produced by one of two methods. Using the saignée method, winemakers will leave the clear juice of dark grapes to macerate with the skins for a brief time, resulting in wine lightly colored and flavored by the skins. In the more common d'assemblage method, producers will blend a small amount of still red wine to a sparkling wine cuvée. [44] Champagne is light in color even when it is produced with red grapes, because the juice is extracted from the grapes using a gentle process that minimizes contact with the skins. By contrast, Rosé Champagne, especially that created by d'assemblage, results in the production of rosé with a predictable and reproducible color, allowing winemakers to achieve a consistent rosé appearance from year to year.

The character of rosé Champagne has varied greatly since its production began. Thought to be a sign of extravagance when originally introduced, [45] by the early 20th century these wines were colloquially known as "Pink Champagne," and had gained a reputation of frivolousness or even dissipation. The 1939 Hollywood film Love Affair was reportedly approached to promote it by featuring the main characters bonding over enjoying the unpopular drink, and caused a sales boost after the film's release. [46] It is also cited by The Eagles as a beverage of choice in the titular "Hotel California." Rosé Champagnes, particularly brut varieties, began regaining popularity in the late 20th century in many countries. Because of the complex variety of flavors it presents, rosé Champagne is often served in fine dining restaurants, as a complementary element in food and wine pairing. [29]

Sweetness

Just after disgorgement a "liqueur de dosage" [47] - a blend of - most times- cane sugar and wine (sugar amounts up to 750 g/litre)- is added to adjust the levels of sugar in the Champagne when bottled for sale, and hence the sweetness of the finished wine. Today sweetness is generally not looked for per se, dosage is used to fine tune the perception of acidity in the wine. Wines labeled Brut Zero, more common among smaller producers, [48] have no added sugar and will usually be very dry, with less than 3 grams of residual sugar per litre in the finished wine. The following terms are used to describe the sweetness of the bottled wine:

The most common style today is Brut. However, throughout the 19th century and into the early 20th century Champagne was generally much sweeter than it is today. Moreover, except in Britain, Champagne was drunk as dessert wines (after the meal), rather than as table wines (with the meal). [49] At this time, Champagne sweetness was instead referred to by destination country, roughly as: [50]

Of these, only the driest English is close to contemporary tastes.

Champagne bottles

Side-by-side comparison of Champagne bottles. (L to R) On ladder: Magnum (1.5 litres), full (0.75 litre), half (0.375 litre), quarter (0.1875 litre). On floor: Balthazar (12 litres), Salmanazar (9 litres), Methuselah (6 litres), Jeroboam (3 litres) Veuve clicquot bottle sizes.jpg
Side-by-side comparison of Champagne bottles. (L to R) On ladder: Magnum (1.5 litres), full (0.75 litre), half (0.375 litre), quarter (0.1875 litre). On floor: Balthazar (12 litres), Salmanazar (9 litres), Methuselah (6 litres), Jeroboam (3 litres)

Champagne is mostly fermented in two sizes of bottles, standard bottles (750 millilitres) and magnums (1.5 litres). In general, magnums are thought to be higher quality, as there is less oxygen in the bottle, and the volume-to-surface area ratio favours the creation of appropriately sized bubbles. However, there is no hard evidence for this view. Other bottle sizes, mostly named for Biblical figures, are generally filled with Champagne that has been fermented in standard bottles or magnums. Gosset still bottles its Grande Réserve in jeroboam from the beginning of its second fermentation.

Sizes larger than Jeroboam (3 L) are rare. Primat bottles (27 L)—and, as of 2002, Melchizedek bottles (30 L)—are exclusively offered by the House Drappier. (The same names are used for bottles containing regular wine and port; however, Jeroboam, Rehoboam, and Methuselah refer to different bottle volumes.) [51]

Unique sizes have been made for specific markets, special occasions and people. The most notable example is perhaps the 20 fluid oz. / 56.8 cl (imperial pint) bottle made between 1874 and 1973 for the English market by Pol Roger, often associated with Sir Winston Churchill. [52]

In 2009, a bottle of 1825 Perrier-Jouët Champagne was opened at a ceremony attended by 12 of the world's top wine tasters. This bottle was officially recognised by Guinness World Records as the oldest bottle of Champagne in the world. The contents were found to be drinkable, with notes of truffles and caramel in the taste. There are now only two other bottles from the 1825 vintage extant. [53]

In July 2010, 168 bottles were found on board a shipwreck near the Åland Islands in the Baltic Sea by Finnish diver Christian Ekström. Initial analyses indicated there were at least two types of bottle from two different houses: Veuve Clicquot in Reims and the long-defunct Champagne house Juglar (absorbed into Jacquesson in 1829.) [54] The shipwreck is dated between 1800 and 1830, and the bottles discovered may well predate the 1825 Perrier-Jouët referenced above. [55] [56] When experts were replacing the old corks with new ones, they discovered there were also bottles from a third house, Heidsieck. The wreck, then, contained 95 bottles of Juglar, 46 bottles of Veuve Clicquot, and four bottles of Heidsieck, in addition to 23 bottles whose manufacture is still to be identified. Champagne experts Richard Juhlin and Essi Avellan, MW [54] described the bottles' contents as being in a very good condition. It is planned that the majority of the bottles will be sold at auction, the price of each estimated to be in the region of £40,000–70,000. [55] [56] [57]

In April 2015, nearly five years after the bottles were first found, researchers led by Philippe Jeandet, a professor of food biochemistry, released the findings of their chemical analyses of the Champagne, and particularly noted the fact that, although the chemical composition of the 170-year-old Champagne was very similar to the composition of modern-day Champagne, there was much more sugar in this Champagne than in modern-day Champagne, and it was also less alcoholic than modern-day Champagne. The high sugar level was characteristic of people's tastes at the time, and Jeandet explained that it was common for people in the 19th century, such as Russians, to add sugar to their wine at dinner. It also contained higher concentrations of minerals such as iron, copper, and table salt than modern-day Champagne does. [58] [59]

Champagne corks

A Champagne cork before usage. Only the lower section, made of top-quality pristine cork, will be in contact with the Champagne Bouchon de champagne neuf.jpg
A Champagne cork before usage. Only the lower section, made of top-quality pristine cork, will be in contact with the Champagne
Corking a Champagne Bottle: 1855 engraving of the manual method Champagne-Corking-1855.jpg
Corking a Champagne Bottle: 1855 engraving of the manual method

Champagne corks are mostly built from three sections and are referred to as agglomerated corks. The mushroom shape that occurs in the transition is a result of the bottom section's being composed of two stacked discs of pristine cork cemented to the upper portion, which is a conglomerate of ground cork and glue. The bottom section is in contact with the wine. Before insertion, a sparkling wine cork is almost 50% larger than the opening of the bottle. Originally, the cork starts as a cylinder and is compressed before insertion into the bottle. Over time, their compressed shape becomes more permanent and the distinctive "mushroom" shape becomes more apparent.

The aging of the Champagne post-disgorgement can to some degree be told by the cork, as, the longer it has been in the bottle, the less it returns to its original cylinder shape.

Champagne etiquette

Champagne is usually served in a Champagne flute, whose characteristics include a long stem with a tall, narrow bowl, thin sides and an etched bottom. The intended purpose of the shape of the flute is to reduce surface area, therefore preserving carbonation, as well as maximizing nucleation (the visible bubbles and lines of bubbles). [60] Legend has it that the Victorian coupe 's shape was modelled on the breast of Madame de Pompadour, chief-mistress of Louis XV of France, or perhaps Marie Antoinette, but the glass was designed in England over a century earlier especially for sparkling wine and champagne in 1663. [61] [62] Champagne is always served cold; its ideal drinking temperature is 7 to 9 °C (45 to 48 °F). Often the bottle is chilled in a bucket of ice and water, half an hour before opening, which also ensures the Champagne is less gassy and can be opened without spillage. Champagne buckets are made specifically for this purpose and often have a larger volume than standard wine-cooling buckets to accommodate the larger bottle, and more water and ice. [63]

Opening Champagne bottles

To reduce the risk of spilling or spraying any Champagne, open the Champagne bottle by holding the cork and rotating the bottle at an angle in order to ease out the stopper. This method, as opposed to pulling the cork out, prevents the cork from flying out of the bottle at speed. (The expanding gases are supersonic. [64] ) Also, holding the bottle at an angle allows air in and helps prevent the champagne from geysering out of the bottle.

A sabre can be used to open a Champagne bottle with great ceremony. This technique is called sabrage (the term is also used for simply breaking the head of the bottle). [65]

Pouring Champagne

Pouring sparkling wine while tilting the glass at an angle and gently sliding in the liquid along the side will preserve the most bubbles, as opposed to pouring directly down to create a head of "mousse", according to a study, On the Losses of Dissolved CO2 during Champagne serving, by scientists from the University of Reims. [66] Colder bottle temperatures also result in reduced loss of gas. [66] Additionally, the industry is developing Champagne glasses designed specifically to reduce the amount of gas lost. [67]

Spraying Champagne

Champagne on the podium of the 2007 Tour of Gippsland Champagne celebration - tour of gippsland.jpg
Champagne on the podium of the 2007 Tour of Gippsland

Champagne has been an integral part of sports celebration since Moët & Chandon started offering their Champagne to the winners of Formula 1 Grand Prix events. At the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans, winner Dan Gurney started the tradition of drivers spraying the crowd and each other. [68] The Muslim-majority nation Bahrain banned Champagne celebrations on F1 podiums in 2004, using a nonalcoholic pomegranate and rose water drink instead. [69]

In 2015, some Australian sports competitors began to celebrate by drinking champagne from their shoe, a practice known as shoey.

Culinary uses

The poulet au champagne ("chicken with Champagne") is an essentially Marnese specialty. [70] Other well-known recipes using Champagne are huîtres au champagne ("oysters with Champagne") and Champagne zabaglione.

Champagne price

There are several general factors influencing the price of Champagne: the limited land of the region, the prestige that Champagne has developed worldwide, and the high cost of the production process, among possible others. [71]

Champagne producers

A list of major Champagne producers and their respective Cuvée de prestige

HouseFounding YearLocationCuvée de prestigeVintageCompany
Henri Abelé1757 Reims Sourire de Reims
Freixenet Spain
Alfred Gratien1864 Épernay Cuvée Paradisyes Henkell & Co. Sektkellerei KG
AR Lenoble1920 Damery Les Aventures-Family owned
Ayala1860 Aÿ Grande Cuvéeyes Bollinger
Bauget-Jouette1822 Épernay Cuvée Jouette/
noFamily owned
Beaumet/Jeanmaire1878 Épernay Cuvée Malakoff/
Cuvée Elysée
yes Laurent-Perrier
Beaumont des Crayères1953 Mardeuil Nostalgiedependent cooperative with ~240 affiliated producers
Besserat de Bellefon1843 Épernay Cuvée des MoinesGroupe Boizel Chanoine Champagne
Billecart-Salmon 1818 Mareuil-sur-Ay Grande Cuvéeyesindependent
Binet1849 Rilly-la-Montagne Cuvée SélectionyesGroupe Binet, Prin et Collery
Château de Bligny1911 Bligny (Aube) Cuvée année 2000yesGroupe G. H. Martel & Co.
Claude-&-Belmont 1918 Vertus Cuvée année 2008yespar CP Récoltant-manipulant
Henri Blin et Cie1947 Vincelles Cuvée Jahr 2000yescooperative with ~34 affiliated producers
Bollinger 1829 Aÿ Vieilles Vignes Françaisesyesindependent
La Grande Année, (R. D. – Récemment Dégorgé, this is the denomination for "Œnothèque" by Bollinger, meaning the crowning achievement of the Grande Année)yes
Boizel1834 Épernay Joyau de FranceyesBoizel Chanoine Champagne
Ferdinand Bonnet1922 Oger EPI
Raymond Boulard1952 La-Neuville-aux-Larris Vieilles Vignesindependent
Canard-Duchêne 1868 Ludes Grande Cuvée Charles VIIAlain Thiénot
De Castellane1895 Épernay CommodoreyesLaurent-Perrier
Cattier1918 Chigny-les-Roses Clos du Moulin/
Armand de Brignac
independent
Charles de Cazanove1811 Reims StradivariusGroupe Rapeneau
Chanoine Frères1730 Reims gamme Tsarine
vintage dependentBoizel Chanoine Champagne
Cheurlin1788 Celles-sur-Ource Brut Spéciale
Rosé de Saignée
- Independent
Cheurlin Thomas1788 Celles-sur-Ource Blanc de Blanc - Célébrité
Blanc de Noir - Le Champion
- Independent
Deutz 1838 Aÿ Amour de Deutz, Cuvée William Deutzyes Louis Rœderer
Drappier 1808 Urville Grande Sendréeyesfamily owned
Duval-Leroy 1859 Vertus Femme de Champagnevintage dependentindependent
Gauthier1858 Épernay Grande Réserve BrutBoizel Chanoine Champagne
Paul Goerg1950 Vertus Cuvée Lady C.yes
Gosset1584 Aÿ CelebrisyesRenaud Cointreau
Heidsieck & Co. Monopole 1785 Épernay Diamant Bleuyes Vranken-Pommery Monopole
Charles Heidsieck1851 Reims Blanc des MillénairesyesEPI
Henriot 1808 Reims Cuvée des Enchanteleursyesindependent
Krug 1843 Reims Name defined annuallyyes LVMH
Clos du Mesnil, Clos d'Ambonnayvintage dependent
Charles Lafitte1848 Épernay Orgueil de Francevintage dependentVranken-Pommery Monopole
Lanson Père & Fils 1760 Reims Noble CuvéeyesBoizel Chanoine Champagne
Larmandier-Bernier1956 Vertus Vieille Vigne de Cramantyesfamily owned
Laurent-Perrier 1812 Tours-sur-Marne Grand Siècle "La Cuvée"Laurent-Perrier
Mercier 1858 Épernay Vendangeyes LVMH
Moët & Chandon 1743 Épernay Dom Pérignon yes LVMH
G. H. Mumm 1827 Reims Mumm de Cramant Pernod-Ricard
Naveau 1988 Bergères-les-Vertus Cuvée RhapsodieyesFamily-owned
Bruno Paillard 1981 Reims N. P. U. (Nec Plus Ultra)yesindependent
Perrier-Jouët 1811 Épernay Belle Époqueyes Pernod-Ricard
Philipponnat 1910 Mareuil-sur-Ay Clos des Goissesvintage dependentBoizel Chanoine Champagne
Piper-Heidsieck 1785 Reims RareEPI
Pommery 1836 Reims Cuvée LouiseyesVranken-Pommery Monopole
Robert Moncuit 1889 Le Mesnil-sur-Oger Cuvée réservée brut, Cuvée réservée extra brut, Grande Cuvée Grand Cru Blanc de Blancsnoindependent
Louis Rœderer 1776 Reims Cristal yesindependent
Pol Roger 1849 Épernay Winston Churchillyesindependent
Ruinart 1729
oldest still active
producer
Reims Dom Ruinartyes LVMH
Salon 1921 Le Mesnil-sur-Oger SyesLaurent-Perrier
Marie Stuart1867 Reims Cuvée de la SommelièreAlain Thiénot
Brut Millésiméyes
Chartogne Taillet1515 Reims Fiacreyesindependent
Taittinger 1734 Reims Comtes de ChampagneyesTaittinger
Thiénot1985 Reims Grande CuvéeyesAlain Thiénot
Cuvée Stanislas
de Venoge1837 Épernay Grand Vin des PrincesyesBoizel Chanoine Champagne
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin 1772 Reims La Grande Dameyes LVMH
Vranken1979 Épernay Demoiselle followed by
vintage dependent names
vintage dependentVranken-Pommery Monopole

See also

Related Research Articles

Champagne wine region Wine region of France

The Champagne wine region is a wine region within the historical province of Champagne in the northeast of France. The area is best known for the production of Champagne, the sparkling white wine that bears the region's name. EU law and the laws of most countries reserve the term "Champagne" exclusively for wines that come from this region located about 160 kilometres (100 miles) east of Paris. The viticultural boundaries of Champagne are legally defined and split into five wine-producing districts within the historical province: Aube, Côte des Blancs, Côte de Sézanne, Montagne de Reims, and Vallée de la Marne. The towns of Reims and Épernay are the commercial centers of the area. Reims is famous for its cathedral, the venue of the coronation of the French Kings and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sparkling wine Wine with significant levels of carbon dioxide

Sparkling wine is a wine with significant levels of carbon dioxide in it, making it fizzy. While the phrase commonly refers to champagne, EU countries legally reserve that term for products exclusively produced in the Champagne region of France. Sparkling wine is usually either white or rosé, but there are examples of red sparkling wines such as the Italian Brachetto, Bonarda and Lambrusco, and the Australian sparkling Shiraz. The sweetness of sparkling wine can range from very dry brut styles to sweeter doux varieties.

Dom Pérignon (monk) French Benedictine monk and inventor of champagne

Dom Pierre Pérignon, O.S.B., was a French Benedictine monk who made important contributions to the production and quality of Champagne wine in an era when the region's wines were predominantly still red. Popular myths frequently, but erroneously, credit him with the invention of sparkling Champagne, which did not become the dominant style of Champagne until the mid-19th century.

Pinot blanc Variety of grape

Pinot blanc is a white wine grape. It is a point genetic mutation of Pinot noir. Pinot noir is genetically unstable and will occasionally experience a point mutation in which a vine bears all black fruit except for one cane which produces white fruit.

Louis Roederer

Louis Roederer is a producer of champagne based in Reims, France. Founded in 1776, the business was inherited and renamed by Louis Roederer in 1833. It remains as one of the few independent and family-run maisons de champagne. Over 3.5 million bottles of Louis Roederer champagne are shipped each year to more than 100 countries.

Jura wine

Jura wine is French wine produced in the Jura département. Located between Burgundy and Switzerland, this cool climate wine region produces wines with some similarity to Burgundy and Swiss wine. Jura wines are distinctive and unusual wines, the most famous being vin jaune, which is made by a similar process to Sherry, developing under a flor-like strain of yeast. This is made from the local Savagnin grape variety. Other grape varieties include Poulsard, Trousseau, and Chardonnay. Other wine styles found in Jura includes a vin de paille made from Chardonnay, Poulsard and Savagnin, a sparkling Crémant du Jura made from slightly unripe Chardonnay grapes, and a vin de liqueur known as Macvin du Jura made by adding marc to halt fermentation. The renowned French chemist and biologist Louis Pasteur was born and raised in the Jura region and owned a vineyard near Arbois.

Veuve Clicquot French Champagne house

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin is a Champagne house founded in 1772 and based in Reims. It is one of the largest Champagne houses. Madame Clicquot is credited with major breakthroughs, creating the first known vintage champagne in 1810, and inventing the riddling table process to clarify champagne in 1816. In 1818, she invented the first known blended rosé champagne by blending still red and white wines, a process still used by the majority of champagne producers.

Gosset, founded in 1584, is the oldest wine house in Champagne. In 1584, Pierre Gosset, alderman of Aÿ and wine-grower, made still, mostly red, wines from the grapes he harvested from his own vines. In those days, two wines vied for pride of place at the table to the Kings of France: the wine of Aÿ and, from some hundreds of leagues further South, the wine of Beaune. Then, in the 18th century the wine made in around Aÿ began to bubble and the Gosset family turned naturally to the production of champagne.

Krug Champagne is a Champagne house founded by Joseph Krug in 1843. It is based principally in Reims, the main city in France's Champagne region and is one of the famous Champagne houses that formed part of the Grandes marques. Today the house is majority owned by the multinational conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton S.E. whose portfolio includes other well known wine brands such as Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Château d'Yquem and Ruinart. Despite LVMH's majority ownership, the Krug family is still actively involved in all the key decisions of the house but does not manage the day-to-day operations.

Bollinger

Bollinger is a French Champagne house, a producer of sparkling wines from the Champagne region. They produce several labels of Champagne under the Bollinger name, including the vintage Vieilles Vignes Françaises, Grande Année and R.D. as well as the non-vintage Special Cuvée. Founded in 1829 in Aÿ by Hennequin de Villermont, Paul Renaudin and Jacques Bollinger the house continues to be run by members of the Bollinger family. In Britain Bollinger Champagnes are affectionately known as "Bolly".

The glossary of wine terms lists the definitions of many general terms used within the wine industry. For terms specific to viticulture, winemaking, grape varieties, and wine tasting, see the topic specific list in the "See also" section below.

Traditional method

The traditional method is the process used in the Champagne region of France to produce Champagne. It is also the method used in various French regions to produce sparkling wines, in Spain to produce Cava, in Portugal to produce Espumante and in Italy to produce Franciacorta. The method is known as the méthode champenoise, but the Champagne producers have successfully lobbied the European Union to restrict the use of that term within the EU only to wines produced in Champagne. Thus, wines from elsewhere cannot use the term "méthode champenoise" on products sold in the EU, and instead the term "traditional method" or the local language equivalent. South African wines from the Western Cape are labelled with the term Methode Cap Classique. Some wine producers in countries outside the EU may disregard EU labeling laws and use méthode champenoise or even “Champagne” on labels for products not exported to the EU, but this usage is decreasing.

Vouvray (wine)

Vouvray is a French wine region in the Loire Valley located in the Touraine district just east of the city of Tours in the commune of Vouvray. The Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) is dedicated almost exclusively to Chenin blanc; the obscure and minor grape Arbois is permitted but rarely used.

Sparkling wine production

Sparkling wine production is the method of winemaking used to produce sparkling wine. The oldest known production of sparkling wine took place in 1531 with the ancestral method.

Limoux wine

Limoux wine is produced around the city of Limoux in Languedoc in southwestern France. Limoux wine is produced under four Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) designations: Blanquette de Limoux, Blanquette méthode ancestrale, Crémant de Limoux and Limoux, the first three of which are sparkling wines and dominate the production around Limoux. The main grape of the region is the Mauzac, locally known as Blanquette, followed by Chardonnay and Chenin blanc. In 2005, the Limoux AOC was created to include red wine production consisting of mostly Merlot. Wine historians believe that the world's first sparkling wine was produced in this region in 1531, by the monks at the abbey in Saint-Hilaire.

The classification of wine can be done according to various methods including place of origin or appellation, vinification methods and style, sweetness and vintage, or variety used. Practices vary in different countries and regions of origin, and many practices have varied over time. Some classifications enjoy official protection by being part of the wine law in their country of origin, while others have been created by, for example, grower's organizations without such protection.

Arbane is a white French wine grape variety that has been historically grown in the Aube region of Champagne, but has now all but disappeared from the vineyards with less than 1 hectare left in France in 2006. Despite its rarity, it is still permitted grape variety to be blended with Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier and other varieties in the Champagne cuvée.

Trento DOC

Trento DOC is an appellation for white and rosé sparkling wine made in Trentino, Italy. Trentinos developed this appellation, the second in the world after Champagne, to ensure quality and distinction. Only Chardonnay, Pinot noir, and Pinot Meunier with Pinot blanc are permitted, and they must be grown in a well-defined area within the Province of Trento.

History of Champagne

The history of Champagne has seen the wine evolve from being a pale, pinkish still wine to the sparkling wine now associated with the region. The Romans were the first to plant vineyards in this area of northeast France, with the region being cultivated by at least the 5th century, possibly earlier. When Hugh Capet was crowned King of France in 987 at the cathedral of Reims, located in the heart of the region, he started a tradition that brought successive monarchs to the region—with the local wine being on prominent display at the coronation banquets. The early wine of the Champagne region was a pale, pinkish wine made from Pinot noir.

This glossary of winemaking terms lists some of terms and definitions involved in making wine, fruit wine, and mead.

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Further reading