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Champagne

  • Image Champagne no.0
"Come quickly my brothers, I am drinking stars" cried the monk Dom Pierre Pérignon when he tasted champagne for the first time! Timeless, a symbol of celebration, of seduction, of effervescence itself, champagne is a true medium, often confined to the spirit of the party or, as Winston Churchill proclaimed, "necessary in times of defeat and obligatory in times of victory". In his book, "L'éclair d'un bonheur", the historian Jean-Pierre Devroey reminds us that in 1692, it froze on July 22nd in Champagne and snowed on October 9th; that year, the grape harvest took place in mid-November! We can therefore assume that in these rather unusual circumstances, fermentation was often interrupted as winter approached and resumed the following spring; the wine, at that time housed in barrels, "reworked" and this resumption of fermentation resulted in the release of carbon dioxide. This phenomenon caused the French aristocrats to fall out of love with these wines, but at the same time created the beginnings of effervescence! It was around 1695 that the producers in the Reims region began to use pressure-resistant bottles and corks. Today, the Champagne vineyards are very heterogeneous, with a total of 34,300 hectares, 10% of which belong to wine houses and 90% to winegrowers. The subsoil composition is mostly limestone, which favours the drainage of the soils and brings out a certain minerality.BlendingThis is the keystone of most champagnes. With the exception of vintage wines or cuvees from closed vineyards or plot selections, champagne is above all a blended wine. It is even its essence, one might say. Synergy could be the key word in blending: between the different crus, grape varieties, vintages and reserve wines (from previous years) to elaborate, by successive touches, the cuvée. In all cases, the whole must be better than each of the parts taken in isolation, and even than the simple sum of its parts. Between the desire to perpetuate, for most of the big brands, a house style, immediately recognisable by the wine lover, and a more creative approach, the range is wide.Blanc de ... blanc ou blanc de noirSeven grape varieties are currently authorised in Champagne. Three of them dominate: pinot noir (40%), pinot meunier (32%) and chardonnay (29%). Most champagnes are made from a blend of black and white grapes. When it is made only from red grapes (pinot noir and/or meunier), it is called blanc de noirs. In the opposite case, when it is made from Chardonnay in most cases, it is called Blanc de Blancs. Indeed, the direct Champagne pressing, without contact between juice and skin, makes it possible to obtain a clear juice from red grapes because the coloured pigments (anthocyanins) are found in the skin of the grape.BSABrut without year. This is the opposite of a vintage champagne. The result of the blending of several vintages with a more or less high percentage of reserve wines, BSA represents 90% of champagne sales and is most often characterised by a standard style corresponding to the house taste.Champagne roséTo make rosé, there are two ways: either by short maceration (from 24 to 72 hours) of the juice with the skins, or by blending white wine and still red wine. Macerated rosés generally offer more structure and substance than rosés made by blending. DosingAfter disgorging - the stage where the deposit resulting from the transformation of sugar into alcohol is expelled from the bottle - comes the time for dosage. The latter can be used as a cover-up (filling in a weak raw material) but it can also be the chef's grain of salt, that little addition that allows the whole to gain in depth.European regulations determine the types of dosage:Brut nature: between 0 and 3g/litreExtra-brut: between 3 and 6g/litreBrut: between 6 and 12g/litreExtra-dry: between 12 and 17g/litreDry: between 17 and 32g/litreHalf-dry: between 32 and 50g/litreSweet: more than 50g/litreServiceThe container plays a very important role here, as it does for other wines. Cups should be avoided. A tall flute or even a tasting glass such as MasterGlass or Sydonios are perfectly suitable. Some champagnes can be decanted, especially if the date of disgorgement is recent (see the label). In this case, it is important that the temperature of the champagne and that of the decanter are identical.
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91 items

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