Champagne

About the Champagne Region

Easily the most famous sparkling wine in the world! The cool climate and chalky soils in Northern France work together to produce the most traditional styles of creamy to crisp sparkling wines that exist in the world.

Key Champagne Grapes
  • Pinot Noir
  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Meunier

Facts about Champagne

Champagne can only come from the Champagne region of France. The method used to make Champagne may be echoed in other countries and regions, but these are classified as their own wines, not Champagne.

Champagne produces white and rosé sparkling wines made from only three grape varieties (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier)

These wines must be made through a process called Méthode-Champenoise. This involves many key elements from whole bunch gentle pressing to secondary fermentation in the bottle and certified rest periods for the different styles.

The creamy character in Champagne comes from the length of lees aging the wine has in the bottle. This represents the time the wine is resting in contact with the yeast before disgorgement.

Champagne styles

Non-Vintage – this is usually the ’house’ style for a producer and offers consistency;

Blanc de Blancs – made from 100% Chardonnay grapes;

Blanc de Noirs – made from black grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier;

Rosé – Rosé wines that a delicate pink in colour. Sometimes made from gentle pressing of Pinot Noir, Champagne is the only area that is permitted to make Rose by belnding red and white wines together;

Vintage – the wines are made with grapes from one year and are aged for a minimum of 36 months.

Classifications (the technical bit)

Champagne classification is a little different to Bordeaux and Burgundy. Here, an entire village is rated between 1-100% and then given a classification according to the percentage. The percentages are directly reflective of the price paid for the grapes that year. 100% = Grand Cru Status, 90-99% = Premier Cru.

This does all seem a little price led and technical but when looking at Champagne the production classifications are considered the most vital to the final product’s style and quality. Is it vintage or NV? How long has the bottle been laid to rest? Remember NV must be aged for at least 15 months, and Vintage 36 months.

Hennings Wine says

Don’t be put off by the price tag of Champagne! Of course it can be pricey but it is a reflection of the years taken to produce a bottle and a huge amount of craftsmanship from the winemaker.

A lot of the Champagne production process is still done by hand to ensure the utmost quality and precision – a cheaper sparkling wine just doesn’t offer this. Yes there is a time for inexpensive fun bubbles but if you want to taste true complexity then treat yourself to the good stuff!

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