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Flashcards in Champagne / Sparkling Deck (68)
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What is the alternate French term to méthode champenoise that indicates a wine has undergone secondary fermentation in the bottle?

Méthode traditionelle


Besides true Champagne, name at least 2 other sparkling wines that are bottle fermented.

  • Franciacorta (Italy)
  • Cava (Spain)
  • Cap Classique (South Africa)
  • Crémant d'Alsace (France)
  • Crémant de Bourgogne (France)
  • Crémant de Bordeaux (France)
  • Crémant de Jura (France)
  • Crémant de Savoie (France)
  • Crémant de Loire (France)
  • Crémant de Limoux (France)
  • Vouvray Mousseux (France)


For any sparkling French wine labeled 'Crémant', how many months does it have to spend sur lie?

9 months


Sparkling wine can be produced under what generic AOP in the Loire Valley?

Crémant de la Loire

  • can be either white or rosé, and the majority of production takes place in Saumur;
  • méthode traditionelle;
  • grapes include Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, plus a few others.


Besides Crémant de Loire, name 2 other sparkling wine appellations in the Loire Valley and their permissible varietals.

1. Vouvray

  • Chenin Blanc

2. Saumur

  • Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc

Both are made using méthode traditionelle and must spend a minimum of 9 months sur lie.


List the overarching steps to making méthode traditionelle wines.

  1. Primary Fermentation
  2. Blending
  3. Bottling
  4. Liqueur de Tirage
  5. Secondary Fermentation
  6. Aging
  7. Riddling
  8. Disgorgement
  9. Dosage/Liqueur d'Expédition
  10. Packaging


What are the first steps of making Champagne up through Primary Fermentation?

Grapes are picked and pressed, and the resulting wine after the first fermentation is a still, low alcohol (~11% abv), high acid, base wine called vin clair.


Are Champagne houses allowed to reserve a portion of their annual production in bulk to use for future blending?


Using reserve bulk wine helps the house achieve a consistent style for their non-vintage wines.  Reserve wines also help add flavor and depth to non-vintage wines.


If a bottle of Champagne is vintage dated, how much of the wine has to come from that vintage?

100% of the wine must be from that vintage.


How is rosé Champagne made?

Rosé Champagne is made in one of two ways:

  1. Blending still red wine (Pinot Noir or Meunier) with the base white wine (vin clair);
  2. Saignée method where the wine gains color from short skin maceration.

Blending is allowed at any stage of the méthode traditionelle process up to and including the addition of liqueur de tirage.


Describe the Blending process when making Champagne.

Blending is when the base wines are blended together to make the cuvée. In Champagne, different grape varieties are usually blended together, as well villages, terroir, and vintages.

The finished dry wine is bottled, and liqueur de tirage is added. The wine will then go through secondary fermentation in the bottle.


What is the liqueur de tirage?

The liqueur de tirage is a combination of wine, sugar, yeast, yeast nutrients, and a clarifying agent that is added to bottles after the wine is blended.

The liquer de tirage ignites the secondary fermentation.



Secondary fermentation:
Describe what it is and what happens because of it.

Secondary fermentation is a fermentation that occurs inside the bottle after the liqueur de tirage is added and the bottle is corked. 

Yeasts consume the sugar to create CO2, which dissolves in the wine, and the alcohol is raised approximately 1%. 

Once the yeasts consume all the sugar, they die and fall to the bottom of the bottle. They stay trapped inside the bottle, allowing the wine to rest sur lie, until disgorgement. 


Discuss the Aging step in the process of méthode traditionelle.

After secondary fermentation has completed in the bottle, the dead yeast cells (lees) break down and help with flavor development and texture in a process known as autolysis.   

A méthode traditionelle wine can age for as few as 9 months and up to/more than 30 months.


What is riddling?

Riddling is the process of giving a swift turn to bottles by hand during the Aging process to manipulate and encourage dead yeast cells into the neck of the bottle. The bottles are turned from their sides until they are fully upside down on their crown cap (known as sur pointe).  

Today many sparkling wine houses use gyropalettes, which hold 504 bottles, to riddle their wines instead of hand ridddling.


Describe disgorgement.

Disgorgement happens after the riddling process.

Disgorgement is the removal of the yeast "plug" that collected in the neck of the bottle from the riddling process.  

The necks of the bottles are placed upside down into a freezing liquid which causes the yeast "plug" to freeze.  The crown cap is quickly removed and the CO2 pressure from inside the bottle forces out the "plug" leaving a clear wine inside the bottle.


What is dosage or liqueur d'expédition?

Dosage/liqueur d'expédition is a liquid composed of wine and sugar syrup that is added after disgorgement.  

The dosage determines the final dryness or sweetness level of wine made by méthode traditionelle.


How many grams of residual sugar in Brut Nature/Brut Zero?

0-3 grams per liter


How many grams of residual sugar in Extra Brut?

0-6 grams per liter


How many grams of residual sugar in Brut?

0-12 grams per liter


How many grams of residual sugar in Extra Dry?

12-17 grams per liter


How many grams of residual sugar in Sec?

17-32 grams per liter


How many grams of residual sugar in Demi-Sec?

32-50 grams per liter


How many grams of residual sugar in Doux?

50+ grams per liter


What are the three main grape varieties used in making Champagne?

  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Noir
  • Meunier (aka Pinot Meunier)


Is Champagne or Alsace the northernmost winemaking region in France?

Champagne is the most northern winemaking region in France.


There are 5 regions of Champagne.  Which are the three most important?

The three most important regions in Champagne are:

  • Montagne de Reims
  • Vallée de la Marne
  • Côte des Blancs

The other two regions are the Côte des Bars and Côte de Sézanne.


In which Champagne region is Chardonnay the dominant grape?

Côte des Blancs


What is the main type of sub-soil in Champagne?

The main sub-soil in Champagne is chalk, which retains water well.


What is the climate of Champagne?