How is Champagne made, different styles and classifications

For sparkling wine to be called Champagne it must be produced in the Champagne region of northeast France.

It’s made mainly from 3 grape varieties Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay .Each of them gives a Champagne specific taste and character.

  • Pinot Noir – complexity of body, structure and aroma (Red Grape)
  • Pinot Meunier –  fruitiness and floral aromas (Red Grape)
  • Chardonnay – freshness, delicacy, elegance (White Grape)

Champagne Styles and Classifications

Once in a couple of years Champagne vineyards experience particularly great grape year.

Vintage  – Containing blend of wines from only a single year, rested in the bottle 3 years<, great complexity more body

Non-Vintage – Containing blend of wines from more then 1year, rested in the bottle 15 months<, more common although to keep a consistency it contains certain percentage from a great grape year.

Blanc de Blancs – Produced exclusively from Chardonnay white grape variety

Blanc de Noirs – Produced exclusively from red grape varieties (either Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier or blend of two)

Special and Prestige Cuvee – Highest quality blend of wines from the specific locations.

Rose champagne – Blend of still red with sparkling white wine

Grand Cru – Wines from one or more of the top villages in the Champagne region

Level of sweetness

Champagne styles are categorized and labelled on level of sweetness which may refer to amount of sugar in the final product.

Extra Brut – Bone Dry
Brut – Exceptionally Dry
Sec – Medium Dry
Demi-Sec – Medium Sweet
Doux – Sweet to Medium-Sweet

How is Champagne made?

Firstly grapes are harvested, then gently pressed (Champagne is made 2/3 from red grapes) before fermentation process can begin usually in the stainless steel. Different wines are then blended and prematurely bottled then small amount of  wine, yeast and sugar is added. Bottle is then sealed and laid to rest in the horizontal position. When the yeast starts acting on sugar that’s where the 2.fermentation starts. This fermentation produces carbon dioxide which dissolves in the wine. Fermentation also leaves sediment of death yeast cells so by altering neck of the bottle is frozen and removed with the sediment. The level is then topped up with a mixture of wine and sugar and final cork is placed.

Champagne is good for any occasion but works very well as an aperitif or mixed in a cocktails. Traditionally served in  flute or coupe glass but trend is slowly turning to small wine glasses.

 

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