Champagne Flashcards

Learn the history, local geography + topography, major grapes, and vinification method + steps for this iconic region.

1
Q

What are the 3 main grape varietals used to make Champagne?

A
  1. Chardonnay (white)
  2. Pinot Noir (red)
  3. Meunier (red)
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2
Q

Where is the region of Champagne located in relation to Paris?

A

~90 miles (144km) northeast of Paris

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3
Q

What is the climate of Champagne?

Does anything influence this climate?

A

Cool continental

The Atlantic Ocean has been known to influence the region.

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4
Q

On what parallel is the Champagne region located?

A

49th parallel

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5
Q

What are the soils of Champagne?

A
  1. Chalk
  2. Limestone

It is not uncommon to find fossils from ancient sea beds in the soils of Champagne.

Photo taken April 2015

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6
Q

What 2 benefits do Champagne winegrowers have with their limestone and chalk soils?

A
  1. They’re permeable with good drainage; roots can grow quite deep;
  2. They retain a fairly constant temperature throughout the year
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7
Q

What are the weather threats Champagne faces?

A
  1. Rain
  2. Spring frost
  3. Summer hail
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8
Q

Are most champagnes bottled as single varietals or as blends?

Why?

A

Blends

  • Weather in Champagne varies greatly from vintage to vintage, and the region’s northerly latitude makes it difficult to ripen grapes consistently. In order to produce a harmonious Champagne from year to year, blending is prioritized.
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9
Q

TRUE or FALSE:

Champagne can be composed of many different vineyard sites.

A

True

Different vineyard sites add different characteristics to the finished wine, from acidity to ripeness to fruit flavors.

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10
Q

TRUE or FALSE:

Champagne is allowed to be made from a single vintage.

A

True

In theory, Vintage champagnes are only produced in the best vintages – usually ~4-5 times per decade. Vintage champagnes are meant to show the favorable characteristics of the vintage and are never blends of different vintages (they’re always 100% from that declared vintage).

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11
Q

What winemaking method is used to make Champagne?

A

Méthode champenoise

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12
Q

What are synonyms for méthode champenoise?

A
  • Méthode classique
    • term used for wines made outside the Champagne region but are made the same way as champagne
  • Classic method
  • Traditional method
  • Méthode Traditionelle
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13
Q

What is the 1st step in making Méthode Champenoise?

A

Making the base wine.

  • grapes pressed quickly to avoid skin contact and oxidation;
  • grape must go through primary fermentation resulting in a low alcohol, high acid, lightly colored wine. This is your base wine.
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14
Q

What is the 2nd step of making Méthode Champenoise (after creating the base wine)?

A

Blending, aka assemblage

  • once the base wine is made, the winemaker will blend the different base wines (different vintages, villages, etc.)
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15
Q

What step in Méthode Champenoise comes after blending?

A

Secondary fermentation

  • the blended base wine is bottled with liqueur de tirage (a mixture of yeast + sugar);
    • the tirage ignites the secondary fermentation (because the yeasts will eat the sugar, creating CO2 and alcohol);
  • bottle gets a crown cap (bottle cap), is laid on its side, and secondary fermentation begins;
  • the CO2 created by the tirage is trapped and dissolves in the wine.
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16
Q

What are the 2 things tirage creates?

A
  1. CO2
  2. (a little bit of) Alcohol
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17
Q

What step in Méthode Champenoise comes after tirage?

A

Aging on the lees

  • As the yeast cells from the tirage expire, they settle onto the bottom of the bottle;
  • The wine rests on these expired yeast cells, called lees, for at least 12 months.
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18
Q

What is autolysis?

A
  • A process when yeasts decompose;
  • These dead yeast cells release proteins and flavor compounds redolent of bread;
  • This sur lie aging will create flavors of biscuit, brioche, and toast.
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19
Q

Champagne must spend a minimum of ____ months aging sur lie and at least ____ months of total aging prior to release.

A

12 mos sur lie

15 mos prior to release

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20
Q

What is the name of the process that moves lees from bottle to neck post aging?

A

Riddling

  • it’s the first part of the process of removing the spent lees
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21
Q

What is the French term for riddling?

A

Remuage

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22
Q

Describe the process of riddling.

A
  • Each bottle is turned about 45º every day to gently cajole the lees into the neck of the bottle;
  • Riddling is done until the bottle is standing upside down and all lees have settled into the bottle’s neck.
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23
Q

Is riddling done by hand or machine?

A

Riddling can be done by hand OR machine

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24
Q

What does riddling achieve in a bottle of Champagne?

A

Riddling results in a clear wine without any sediment or haziness.

25
Q

What is a gyropalette?

A

The machine that riddles sparkling wine bottles.

26
Q

How many bottles does a gyropalette hold?

A

504

27
Q

How long does it take to riddle the bottles using a gyropalette?

A

~8 days

28
Q

What is the name of the wooden A-frame rack used to hand riddle champagne bottles?

A

Pupitre

29
Q

How many bottles can a pupitre hold?

A

60

30
Q

How long does it take to riddle bottles by hand?

A

~8 weeks

31
Q

Who created the first pupitre?

A

Widow Clicquot

(aka Veuve Clicquot!)

32
Q

How are lees removed after riddling?

A

Disgorgement, aka dégorgement

  • second part of removing dead yeast cells
33
Q

Describe the process of disgorgement.

A
  1. after all sediment has been moved into the neck of the bottle after riddling, the neck is frozen to solidify the yeast plug;
  2. crown cap is removed, either by hand or machine, and the plug is forced out by the pressure of the CO2 gas that was created.
34
Q

What is the French term for disgorgement?

A

Dégorgement

35
Q

After disgorgement, what can be added to a bottle of Champagne?

A

Dosage

  • mixture of wine + sugar, called liqueur d’expédition;
  • the amount of sugar in the dosage determines the final sweetness level of champagne.
36
Q

What makes up the liqueur d’expédition?

A

Wine + sugar

37
Q

What are the 7 sweetness levels and styles of champagne, from driest to sweetest?

A
  1. Brut Nature (no dosage / non dosé)
  2. Extra Brut
  3. Brut (most common style)
  4. Extra Dry
  5. Sec
  6. Demi-sec
  7. Doux
38
Q

What is the AOP in Champagne used for Méthode Champenoise sparkling wine made in Champagne?

A

Champagne AOP

39
Q

What are the 3 sub-regions of Champagne?

A

From north to south:

  1. Montagne de Reims
  2. Vallée de la Marne
  3. Côte des Blancs
40
Q

Montagne de Reims is known best for which grape varietal?

A

Pinot Noir

41
Q

Vallée de la Marne is known best for which grape varietal?

A

Meunier

42
Q

Côte des Blancs is known best for which grape varietal?

A

Chardonnay

43
Q

What are the 2 age designations for Champagne?

A
  1. Vintage
  2. Non-vintage (NV)
44
Q

What are the aging requirements for NV champagne?

A

minimum 15 months, at least 12 of which must be spent sur lie

45
Q

What are the aging requirements for Vintage champagne?

A

minimum 36 mos

46
Q

What are the 3 general styles of Champagne?

A
  1. Rosé
  2. Blanc de Blancs
  3. Blanc de Noirs
47
Q

Blanc de Blancs champagnes must be made with ____% ______ grapes.

A

100% Chardonnay

48
Q

Blanc de Noirs must be made with only _____ and/or _____ grapes.

A
  • Pinot Noir
  • Meunier
49
Q

What are the 2 main types of Champagne producers?

A
  1. Négociants
  2. Growers
50
Q

Describe/define what a négociant producer is.

A

A producer who buys grapes, juice or finished wine which they bottle uner their own name or label.

51
Q

Describe/define what a grower producer is.

A

Someone who makes wine from grapes grown in vineyards that they own.

52
Q

List 3 special bottlings often found in Champagne.

A
  1. Single Vineyard
  2. Clos or Mono parcel
  3. Cuvée Prestige / Tête de Cuvée
53
Q

What’s a Single Vineyard bottling in Champagne?

A

A wine whose grapes come from one, single vineyard.

54
Q

What is a Clos or Mono Parcel?

A

A parcel of, or smaller area within, a single vineyard that’s owned by one producer.

55
Q

What is a Cuvée Prestige or Tête de Cuvée bottling in Champagne?

A

The highest-tier bottling of a Champagne house or producer.

56
Q

How often are Vintage Champagnes made – every year, or maybe a handful of times in a decade?

Why?

A

Maybe a handful of times in a decade due to vintage variation.

57
Q

Most Champagnes are Vintage or Non-vintage?

A

Non-vintage (NV)

58
Q

What are the top vintages in Champagne from 2005 - 2015?

A
  • 2005
  • 2008
  • 2012
  • 2013
  • 2015