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Flashcards in D4 Sparkling: Champagne Deck (97)
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What is the general tasting profile of Champagne?

  • Green apple and lemon fruits
  • Autolytic, biscuit, brioche notes
  • High acidity
  • Medium alcohol
  • Dry finish


The range of styles of Champagne include:

  • Non-vintage (NV)
  • Vintage (100% from that year)
  • Rosé
  • Blanc de Blancs
  • Blanc de Noirs
  • Grand Cru
  • Premier Cru
  • Prestige Cuvée (can be NV or Vintage)
  • Late Release/R.D.


Blanc de Blancs champagne:

  • Made with ___ grapes only
  • What are they like in their youth?
  • What is their aging potential?

  • White grapes only
  • Austere and leaner in style in their youth
  • Tremendous aging potential


Blanc de Noirs champagne:

  • A white wine made from ___ grapes.
  • What is their body like compared to Blanc de Blancs?
  • What is their aging potential, and how do they age compared to Blanc de Blancs?

  • A white wine made from black grapes.
  • Fuller bodied than Blanc de Blancs.
  • They can age well, but they're believed to age faster than Blanc de Blancs.


If Premier Cru or Grand Cru appears on a champagne label, what can you assess about the grapes' provenance?

Premier Cru: all grapes must come from Premier Cru and/or Grand Cru villages in Champagne;

Grand Cru: all grapes must come from one or more Grand Cru villages in Champagne.


Define the term Prestige Cuvée.

Typically the top wine in a Champagne producer’s range, these wines are a meticulous selection of the house's best grapes made with precise winemaking techniques.

  • Can be Vintage or Non-vintage (NV)

NOTE: Some houses, such as Krug, specialize in making a range of prestige cuvées.


Define the term Late Release / R.D. 

Give two examples of Late Release / R.D. wines.

Wines that have had extended lees aging and are disgorged just before they are released to market.  They are ready and meant to be consumed immediately.

Bollinger’s R.D. and Dom Pérignon’s P2 are examples of this style.


What is the difference between rosé d'assemblage and rosé de saignée?

Which method is used more in Champagne?

Rosé d’assemblage: made by blending red wine with white (this method used more);

Rosé de saignée: wine that's 'bled off' after skin contact with the black grapes.


Why is making rosé de saignée Champagne so challenging?

Because achieving the desired, ultimate color is tricky due to the yeasts absorbing color pigments during each fermentation.


How do Late Release / R.D. bottlings differ from wines released from the same vintage that were disgorged earlier? 

  1. Upon release, LR/R.D. wines simultaneously appear more youthful than their vintage counterparts yet have a deeper, different flavor profile.
  2. After disgorgement LR/R.D. wines age more rapidly than vintage wines.
    • Many believe that the impact of disgorgement (the ingress of oxygen and disturbance of the liquid) has a more significant effect in older wines.


Vintage Champagne aging requirements:

Vintage Champagne must spend at least 12 months sur lie, but cannot be released until 3 years after tirage.

  • 100% of the wine must come from the year on the label;
  • Only produced in the best vintages;
  • Vintage Champagne reflects the house style but also exhibits the characteristics of the vintage.


Define Non-vintage (NV) and detail its lees aging requirements.

A wine blended from several vintages which follows a house style, creating a consistent product year in and year out.

NV must spend at least 15 months maturing in the cellar prior to release, 12 months of which must be on the lees.


What are the two still wine appellations in Champagne?

  1. Rosé des Riceys
    • rosé of Pinot Noir
  2. Coteaux Champenois
    • red/white/rosé; most made from Pinot Noir


Some key developments in Champagne's history stem from Dom Pierre Pérignon.

In what ways did he help advance champagne production?

  • Invented the Coquard press;
  • Made first white wine from black grapes;
  • First to blend wines to make a product whose sum was greater than its parts;
  • Re-introduced the cork stopper;
  • Initiated use of stronger, English glass.



Discuss some early developments in champagne production in the 19th century.

  • Controlled secondary fermentation in the bottle using measured sugar + yeast;
  • Riddling, developed by Madame (Veuve) Clicquot which led to...;
  • Disgorgement, which produces a clear wine and dry styles.


Discuss some key developments in Champagne in the 20th century.

  • Vineyard area of Champagne was defined;
  • Échelle des crus was established;
  • Blocage system (reserve wines) was introduced, setting aside a portion of young wines in case of future disaster;
    • practice of keeping/using reserve wines has contributed to higher overall quality, depth, complexity, and consistency. 


On what parallel is the Champagne region?

How big is its footprint north to south and east to west?

It's just below the 50th parallel, directly east of Paris

It spreads over 150km north to south and 120km east to west



What is the climate of Champagne?

Cool continental, with some oceanic influence

Climate change means fewer poor vintages and consistently ripe grapes nowadays.


What is the average annual rainfall in Champagne?

700mm rain per year


What environmental factors influence the characteristic style (fresh, crisp, light bodied wines with high acidity) of Champagne?

  • Low average annual temperature of 11°C (51.8°F);
  • Moderate sunshine;
  • Rain spread throughout the year (thanks to mild ocean influence).


What are the 5 subregions of Champagne?

  1. Montagne de Reims
  2. Vallée de la Marne
  3. Côte des Blancs
  4. Côte de Sézanne
  5. Côte des Bars (somewhat close to Chablis)


What is the elevation of Champagne?

90-300m above sea level



What are the most common soil types in Champagne?

Chalky soils with limestone subsoil and chalk itself


What are the benefits of chalk soil?

  • Highly porous, which means it drains well;
  • Good water retention, which means it can supply water to vines even in dry periods. 


Montagne de Reims:

  • What grape(s) it is best known for?
  • What are its most famous Grand Cru villages?

  • Best known for black grapes;
  • Ambonnay, Bouzy, Mailly, Verzenay, Verzy.


Montagne de Reims:

  • What is its topography like?
  • What are its soils like?

  • More plateau than mountain, some top villages face north which provide superior cool-climate sites (making them vulnerable to frost);
  • Soils types vary; Grand Crus are on chalky soils providing good balance between water retention and drainage.


Montange de Reims:

  • What are the wines like?
  • Interestingly, which grape are some of the vineyards planted to?

  • Wines tend to be high acid and austere in their youth;
  • Unusual for this subregion, there are some important vineyards planted to Chardonnay.


Vallée de la Marne

  • Which grape variety makes up the majority of plantings?
  • Where are they planted in relation to Épernay?
  • What are the soils like, and how does this soil affect the grapes?

  • Meunier makes up the majority of plantings;
  • Planted west of Épernay;
  • Clay, marl and sandy soils, which produce fruity Meunier and flavorful Chardonnay that is blended into early-drinking wines.


Why is Meunier so well suited for the frost-prone Vallée de la Marne?

  • Meunier has later bud break, avoiding early frosts;
  • It ripens earlier than Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.


Name a Grand Cru village in Vallée de la Marne.