What are the 3 main grape varietals used to make Champagne?
- Chardonnay (white)
- Pinot Noir (red)
- Meunier (red)
Where is the region of Champagne located in relation to Paris?
~90 miles (144km) northeast of Paris
What is the climate of Champagne?
Does anything influence this climate?
The Atlantic Ocean has been known to influence the region.
On what parallel is the Champagne region located?
What are the soils of Champagne?
It is not uncommon to find fossils from ancient sea beds in the soils of Champagne.
Photo taken April 2015
What 2 benefits do Champagne winegrowers have with their limestone and chalk soils?
- They’re permeable with good drainage; roots can grow quite deep;
- They retain a fairly constant temperature throughout the year
What are the weather threats Champagne faces?
- Spring frost
- Summer hail
Are most champagnes bottled as single varietals or as 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.
TRUE or FALSE:
Champagne can be composed of many different vineyard sites.
Different vineyard sites add different characteristics to the finished wine, from acidity to ripeness to fruit flavors.
TRUE or FALSE:
Champagne is allowed to be made from a single vintage.
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).
What winemaking method is used to make Champagne?
What are synonyms for méthode champenoise?
- 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
What is the 1st step in making Méthode Champenoise?
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.
What is the 2nd step of making Méthode Champenoise (after creating the base wine)?
Blending, aka assemblage
- once the base wine is made, the winemaker will blend the different base wines (different vintages, villages, etc.)
What step in Méthode Champenoise comes after blending?
- 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.
What are the 2 things tirage creates?
- (a little bit of) Alcohol
What step in Méthode Champenoise comes after tirage?
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.
What is autolysis?
- 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.
Champagne must spend a minimum of ____ months aging sur lie and at least ____ months of total aging prior to release.
12 mos sur lie
15 mos prior to release
What is the name of the process that moves lees from bottle to neck post aging?
- it’s the first part of the process of removing the spent lees
What is the French term for riddling?
Describe the process of riddling.
- 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.
Is riddling done by hand or machine?
Riddling can be done by hand OR machine
What does riddling achieve in a bottle of Champagne?
Riddling results in a clear wine without any sediment or haziness.
What is a gyropalette?
The machine that riddles sparkling wine bottles.
How many bottles does a gyropalette hold?
How long does it take to riddle the bottles using a gyropalette?
What is the name of the wooden A-frame rack used to hand riddle champagne bottles?
How many bottles can a pupitre hold?
How long does it take to riddle bottles by hand?
Who created the first pupitre?
(aka Veuve Clicquot!)
How are lees removed after riddling?
Disgorgement, aka dégorgement
- second part of removing dead yeast cells
Describe the process of disgorgement.
- after all sediment has been moved into the neck of the bottle after riddling, the neck is frozen to solidify the yeast plug;
- 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.
What is the French term for disgorgement?
After disgorgement, what can be added to a bottle of Champagne?
- mixture of wine + sugar, called liqueur d’expédition;
- the amount of sugar in the dosage determines the final sweetness level of champagne.
What makes up the liqueur d’expédition?
Wine + sugar
What are the 7 sweetness levels and styles of champagne, from driest to sweetest?
- Brut Nature (no dosage / non dosé)
- Extra Brut
- Brut (most common style)
- Extra Dry
What is the AOP in Champagne used for Méthode Champenoise sparkling wine made in Champagne?
What are the 3 sub-regions of Champagne?
From north to south:
- Montagne de Reims
- Vallée de la Marne
- Côte des Blancs
Montagne de Reims is known best for which grape varietal?
Vallée de la Marne is known best for which grape varietal?
Côte des Blancs is known best for which grape varietal?
What are the 2 age designations for Champagne?
- Non-vintage (NV)
What are the aging requirements for NV champagne?
minimum 15 months, at least 12 of which must be spent sur lie
What are the aging requirements for Vintage champagne?
minimum 36 mos
What are the 3 general styles of Champagne?
- Blanc de Blancs
- Blanc de Noirs
Blanc de Blancs champagnes must be made with ____% ______ grapes.
Blanc de Noirs must be made with only _____ and/or _____ grapes.
- Pinot Noir
What are the 2 main types of Champagne producers?
Describe/define what a négociant producer is.
A producer who buys grapes, juice or finished wine which they bottle uner their own name or label.
Describe/define what a grower producer is.
Someone who makes wine from grapes grown in vineyards that they own.
List 3 special bottlings often found in Champagne.
- Single Vineyard
- Clos or Mono parcel
- Cuvée Prestige / Tête de Cuvée
What’s a Single Vineyard bottling in Champagne?
A wine whose grapes come from one, single vineyard.
What is a Clos or Mono Parcel?
A parcel of, or smaller area within, a single vineyard that’s owned by one producer.
What is a Cuvée Prestige or Tête de Cuvée bottling in Champagne?
The highest-tier bottling of a Champagne house or producer.
How often are Vintage Champagnes made – every year, or maybe a handful of times in a decade?
Maybe a handful of times in a decade due to vintage variation.
Most Champagnes are Vintage or Non-vintage?
What are the top vintages in Champagne from 2005 - 2015?