Champagne is a sparkling wine known throughout the world. Associated with social life, it represents the culmination of the classical method. If today we are able to enjoy this extraordinary enological product we must thank a Benedictine abbot. Dom Pérignon is the father of this wine. He had a great passion for oenology so much as to be able to renew entire abandoned vineyards of the abbey near Йpernay, assigned after the war. Considering the very difficult period he was going through, his passion led him to carry out experiments on the assembly of grapes to obtain unmistakable scents. The brilliant intuition was to use pinot noir. A black berry grape that with soft pressing manages to give a clear must. However, the circumstances surrounding the invention of bubbles are not known. The abbot, however, was able to understand that the result was obtained only by refermentation.
Characteristics of the territory
Champagne is the French region where this wine is produced. The territory is divided into four zones: Montagne de Reims, Vallèe de la Marne, Cфte de Blancs and Aube. The Montagne de Reims is characterized by chalky soils. This facilitates drainage. Water stagnations, in fact, do not favor a good quality of grapes. The southern exposure of the vineyards allows the best vegetative condition. The area is also characterized by a particular climate phenomenon. The warm air, formed during the day, descends towards the valley at night, favoring the less sunny vineyards. The grapes for champagne in this area give powerful and structured wines. The grape used is Pinot Noir. Vallйe de la Marne are hills with a limestone-clay structure. The resulting wines are characterized by a marked softness. The grape used is Pinot meunier. Cфte de Blancs has soils with large water reserves. In this area the vine is the Chardonnay. Finally, Pinot Noir is bred in Aube. The wines are soft and fruity.
Champenoise or classic method
The production of Champagne takes place through the classic method. In enology it is also used to define it as Champenoise or refermentation in the bottle. In fact, there are two fermentations. The grapes are harvested with attention to the perfect ripening of the grapes. The grapes for champagne are quickly brought to the cellar and subjected to soft pressing. The must obtained is quickly separated from the lees and placed in the fermentation vats. This step is common for all still wines. Alcoholic fermentation will last until spring. Then, the wine will be bottled with the addition of selected yeasts and sugars to start the refermentation. The yeasts, now exhausted, will form easily separated residues with the Remuage system. The debris will accumulate in the inclined neck of the bottle and will come out with the next passage of the Dégorgement or disgorgement. Then, after adding the liqueur d'expйdition the bottle will be capped and labeled.
Champagne grapes: Some rules for recognizing Champagne
Indications on the quality of the champagne are Gran Cru, Premier Cru and Cru. These terms refer to the origin of the grapes. The 17 Grand Cru are areas of the Montagne de Reims region. The others are distributed between Cфte de Blancs and Vallèe de la Marne. The characteristic of the grapes coming from the Cru vineyards is particular, unique and exclusive. The Appelation d'Origine Contrфlée (AOC) corresponds to the Italian DOCG. It refers to products traditionally linked to their area of origin. The dosage of sugars involves the classification of Champagne in: Brut nature with 3g / l, Extra Brut with 6g / l, Brut with 15 g / l, Extra Dry up to 20g / l, Sec with sugars from 18 to 35 g / l , Demi-sec with sugars from 30 to 50 g / l. Beyond these quantities we can define Doux. Crìmant terminology refers to Champagne obtained with low refermentation pressure, about 3 atmospheres against the minimum 4 expected.