D4 Sparkling: Champagne Flashcards

Examines the region, grapes, method of production, and styles of Champagne.

1
Q

What is the general tasting profile of Champagne?

A
  • Green apple and lemon fruits
  • Autolytic, biscuit, brioche notes
  • High acidity
  • Medium alcohol
  • Dry finish
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2
Q

The range of styles of Champagne include:

A
  • 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.
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3
Q

Blanc de Blancs champagne:

  • Made with _____ grapes only
  • What are they like in their youth?
  • What is their aging potential?
A
  • White grapes only
  • Austere and leaner in style in their youth
  • Tremendous aging potential
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4
Q

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
  • 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.
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5
Q

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

A

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.

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6
Q

Define the term Prestige Cuvée.

A

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.

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7
Q

Define the term Late Release / R.D.

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

A

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

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

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8
Q

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

Which method is used more in Champagne?

A

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.

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9
Q

Why is making rosé de saignée Champagne so challenging?

A

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

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10
Q

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

A
  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.
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11
Q

Vintage Champagne aging requirements:

A

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.
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12
Q

In Champagne, define Non-vintage (NV) and detail its lees aging requirements.

A

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.

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13
Q

What are the two still wine appellations in Champagne?

A
  1. Rosé des Riceys
    • rosé of Pinot Noir
  2. Coteaux Champenois
    • red/white/rosé; most made from Pinot Noir
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14
Q

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

In what ways did he help advance champagne production?

A
  • 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.
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15
Q

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

A
  • 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.
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16
Q

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

A
  • 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.
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17
Q

On what parallel is the Champagne region?

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

A

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

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

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18
Q

What is the climate of Champagne?

A

Cool continental, with some oceanic influence

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

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19
Q

What is the average annual rainfall in Champagne?

A

700mm rain per year

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20
Q

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

A
  • Low average annual temperature of 11°C (51.8°F);
  • Moderate sunshine;
  • Rain spread throughout the year (thanks to mild ocean influence).
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21
Q

What are the 5 subregions of Champagne?

A
  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)
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22
Q

What is the elevation of Champagne?

A

90-300m above sea level

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23
Q

What are the most common soil types in Champagne?

A

Chalky soils with limestone subsoil and chalk itself

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24
Q

What are the benefits of chalk soil?

A
  • Highly porous, which means it drains well;
  • Good water retention, which means it can supply water to vines even in dry periods.
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25
Q

Montagne de Reims:

  • What grape(s) it is best known for?
  • What are its most famous Grand Cru villages?
A
  • Best known for black grapes;
  • Ambonnay, Bouzy, Mailly, Verzenay, Verzy.
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26
Q

Montagne de Reims:

  • What is its topography like?
  • What are its soils like?
A
  • 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.
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27
Q

Montagne de Reims:

  • What are the wines like?
  • Interestingly, which grape are some of the vineyards planted to?
A
  • Wines tend to be high acid and austere in their youth;
  • Unusual for this subregion, there are some important vineyards planted to Chardonnay.
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28
Q

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?
A
  • 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.
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29
Q

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

A
  • Meunier has later bud break, avoiding early frosts;
  • It ripens earlier than Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
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30
Q

Name a Grand Cru village in Vallée de la Marne.

A

Aÿ

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31
Q

Côte des Blancs:

  • Which grape makes up the majority of plantings?
  • What are the most famous Grand Cru villages here?
A
  • 95% planted to Chardonnay
  • Avize, Cramant, Oger, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger
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32
Q

Côte des Blancs:

  • What is the soil?
  • How does the soil affect the wines?
A
  • Côte des Blancs has the purest form of chalk, providing balance between water retention and drainage;
  • These soils produce wines of great intensity and longevity, which tend to show austerity in their youth.
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33
Q

Côte de Sézanne:

  • What is it a continuation of?
  • What are the soils?
  • What grape is it mostly planted to, and what are the grapes like from here?
A
  • Continuation of Côte des Blancs;
  • Mostly clay and clay/silt soils with some pockets of chalk;
  • Mostly planted to Chardonnay on warm, south-east facing slopes, resulting in fruitier, riper grapes.

The quality of the grapes here is not as good as those from Côte des Blancs, Vallée de la Marne, or Montagne de Reims.

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34
Q

Côte des Bar:

  • Where is it located in the Champagne region?
  • What grape is it mostly planted to?
A
  • Found in southern Champagne region;
  • Mostly planted to Pinot Noir.
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35
Q

Côte des Bar:

  • What are the soils and topography like?
  • How does this affect the grapes and, more broadly, the rest of Champagne?
A
  • Steep slopes of Kimmeridgian calcareous marl soils provide excellent drainage, helping Pinot Noir to ripen well;
  • The lack of Pinot Noir in the other subregions makes Côte des Bar a valuable source of flavorful, ripe Pinot Noir.

Merchants based in the northern part of Champagne buy much of the wine to blend into non-vintage wines.

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36
Q

What are the three principal grape varieties grown in Champagne?

Give each variety’s approximate percentage of planting.

A
  1. Pinot Noir - 38%
  2. Meunier - 32%
  3. Chardonnay - 30%

These three principal varieties account for 99% of all plantings in the region.

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37
Q

What are the four other grape varieties allowed to be planted in Champagne?

A
  1. Arbanne
  2. Pinot Blanc
  3. Petit Meslier
  4. Fromenteau
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38
Q

Why is Meunier an important grape to have in Non-vintage champagnes?

A

​It lends fruitiness and softness to Non-vintage blends, which are aged sur lie for a shorter time than vintage wines.

NVs are also often drunk on release rather than being cellared and bottle aged, like vintage wines.

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39
Q

What is the average planting density in Champagne (in vines per hectare)?

A

8,000 vines per ha

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40
Q

Why are grapes for sparkling wines grown at high yields?

A

Because it is not necessary to have ripe tannins or concentrated colors or flavors.

41
Q

What are the four training systems permitted in Champagne?

A
  1. Taille Chablis
  2. Cordon du Royat
  3. Guyot
  4. Vallée de la Marne
42
Q

In Champagne, Taille Chablis training system is best for which grape?

How is it pruned?

A
  • Best for Chardonnay;
  • Spur pruned (3-4 cordons [old wood]; at the end of each cordon is a spur with up to 5 buds).

NOTE: D4 material states Taille Chablis is spur pruned, but several other reliable sources say Taille Chablis is cane pruned. See here and here.

43
Q

Cordon du Royat training system is best used for which grapes?

How is it pruned?

A
  • Used for Pinot Noir and Meunier;
  • It’s a single cordon that is spur pruned with the shoots vertically positioned.
44
Q

Guyot training system:

  • What kind of system is it?
  • Must it be single or double, or can it be either?
  • Where is it most used?
A
  • Replacement cane system with VSP;
  • Can be either single + double;
  • Used most in lesser-rated vineyards.
45
Q

Vallée de la Marne training system is only used for which grape variety?

  • What other training system is Vallée de la Marne similar to?
  • Today, is it used often or is it being used less?
A
  • Meunier only;
  • Similar to Guyot;
  • Used less.
46
Q

Across all of Champagne’s training systems, the average number of fruiting buds per vine may not exceed ___ per square meter.

A

18

47
Q

What are Champagne’s weather hazards?

A

Hazards

  • Winter and/or spring frost;
  • Summer hail;
  • Cold or rainy June weather, which can lead to poor fruit/flower set.
48
Q

What are the potential diseases experienced in Champagne?

A

Diseases

  • Botrytis, caused by excessive summer heat + humidity;
  • Downy + powdery mildew;
  • Fanleaf virus, spread by nematodes.
49
Q

What is the Comité Champagne?

A

The Comité Champagne is the trade association that represents the interests of independent Champagne producers (vignerons) and Champagne houses and works as an engine of economic growth for the region.

It promotes the vines and wines of Champagne through a broad remit that includes: economic, technical and environmental development; continuous quality improvement; sector management; marketing and communications; and the promotion and protection of the Champagne AOC across the world.

50
Q

What type of viticulture is promoted and encouraged by the Comité Champagne?

A

Sustainable viticulture:

  • reduce pesticides;
  • increase sexual confusion techniques;
  • groundwater management;
  • increased use of cover crops.

The Comité Champagne also introduced a lighter weight Champagne bottle for Non-vintage cuvées in 2010

51
Q

How does the Comité Champagne set harvest dates and yields every year?

A
  1. They take samples from ~450 plots at véraison;
  2. Measure rate of color change, average weight, sugar concentration, acidity, incidence of botrytis;
  3. Harvest dates are START dates (producers allowed to pick after that date).

Producers can apply to INAO to harvest earlier if there is an increased threat of botrytis.

52
Q

Each year, the Comité Champagne sets the harvest date and the permitted yield for that vintage.

What do they seek to protect by doing this?

A
  1. Protects quality of wine;
    • avoids overcropping, dilution of flavor;
  2. Protects price;
  3. Regulates supply + demand.
53
Q

What is the upper limit of yields in Champagne?

A

15,500 kilos/ha

  • high yields such as this are seen in big production years, e.g. 2006 and 2007.
54
Q

What has been the average yield in Champagne over the last decade?

A

10,500 kilos/ha

55
Q

Grapes in Champagne must be picked:

  • by hand
  • by machine
  • by the vigneron
A

Hand picked

56
Q

Grapes in Champagne must be:

  • fully destemmed
  • partially destemmed
  • whole-bunch pressed
A

Whole-bunch pressed

57
Q

In Champagne, harvesting whole bunches by hand allows vignerons to avoid these potential risks.

A

Crushing the grapes which can lead to oxidation and microbial spoilage

58
Q

How long does harvest usually last in Champagne?

A

about 3 weeks

59
Q

About how many pressing centers are there in Champagne?

A

1900

This plentiful number means that grapes don’t have to travel far before being pressed.

60
Q

Name three benefits of whole-bunch pressing.

A
  1. Low phenolics (no skin/seed tannin extraction);
  2. High juice quality;
  3. Ability to make white wine from black grapes (Blanc de Noirs).
61
Q

How many kilos does a Coquard press hold?

A

4,000 kilos – also known as a marc

62
Q

Juice in Champagne is separated into two distinct fractions.

What are those two fractions called?

A
  1. Cuvée
  2. Taille
63
Q

With Champagne laws restricting pressings to just two (cuvée and taille), what does that do for the wine generally?

A
  1. Preserves fruit flavors;
  2. Avoids over-extracting phenolics;
  3. In sum, it safeguards the overall quality of the wine.
64
Q

Detail what the Cuvée fraction is in Champagne production.

A
  • First 2050 liters of free run + first pressing;
  • It is rich in acids;
  • Produces wines of finesse + long aging potential.
65
Q

Detail what the Taille fraction is in Champagne production.

A
  • The next 500 liters of press juice after the cuvée has been pressed;
  • It is lower in acids;
  • It is rich in color and phenolics;
  • Mostly used for Non-vintage wines;
  • Does not have the same aging potential as Cuvée fraction.
66
Q

EU law states that the alcohol level in Champagne may not exceed ___%.

A

13%

67
Q

Is chaptalization allowed in Champagne?

A

Yes – only if the juice’s natural sugar levels are not high enough, allowing the vigneron to produce a wine with a minimum alcohol level of 11%.

68
Q

In Champagne, alcoholic fermentation occurs in which types of vessels?

A
  1. Temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks (more common);
  2. Large oak foudres (becoming more fashionable).
69
Q

What quality is added to a champagne when its primary fermentation happens in large oak foudres?

A

Textural richness and mouthfeel

70
Q

In Champagne, malolactic conversion is:

  • Always done across all producers because the wines are too acidic if it’s not used.
  • Never done by any producer because it’s the bracing acidity that makes these wines so distinctive.
  • Encouraged by many vignerons, but avoided by others – it really depends on the vintage and what style the winemaker wants to make.
A

MLF is encouraged by many vignerons, but avoided by others. They use it (or don’t use it) depending on when they feel it would be beneficial to the wine.

71
Q

When is blending done in Champagne?:

  • Before primary fermentation
  • After primary and before secondary fermentation
  • After secondary fermentation
A

After primary and before secondary fermentation

72
Q

What is the term for blending in French?

A

Assemblage

73
Q

What are the purposes of blending in Champagne?

A
  • To create a wine greater than the sum of its parts;
  • For a house to create a consistent style.
74
Q

Why is blending a critical step for Non-vintage champagnes?

A

Blending produces a consistent product with the same profile year in and year out

  • blending different vintages and parcels can balance vintage variation.
75
Q

What exactly is blended during the blending phase in Champagne production?

A
  • Different vintages;
  • Different vineyards;
  • Different grape varieties.
76
Q

Name 4 ways that reserves in Champagne are usually kept.

A
  • Reductively, in stainless steel vats;
  • Old oak, which can add gentle oxidative notes;
  • In magnums (Bollinger does this);
  • Perpetual reserve, where a proportion of wine is drawn off every year for blending and is replaced by young wine, thereby creating a blend of younger and older wines to use as reserve wine with the goal of adding complexity.
77
Q

When is liqueur de tirage added?

A

After blending; tirage ignites the secondary fermentation.

78
Q

Why are autolytic, brioche flavors more prominent in true Champagne than in sparkling wines from warmer climates?

A

The overall lower fruitiness in Champagne grapes (due to lower ripeness levels at harvest) allow the brioche and autolytic flavors to be more noticeable and prominent.

79
Q

What happens to a wine if you don’t disgorge it and leave it on its lees?

A

Keeping the wine sur lie (undisgorged) helps protect it against oxidative development.

This is how Late Disgorged / R.D. wines are aged.

80
Q

What determines the final sweetness in Champagne?​

A

The amount of sugar in the liqueur d’expédition

81
Q

What is the typical age of the wine used in the liqueur d’expédition?

A
  • It can be a youthful base wine from the current vintage to give light and fresh flavors;
  • It can also be aged reserve wine that was has been in cask, barrel or magnum which provides baked apple and dried fruit aromas.
  • In rosé production, the liqueur d’expédition can be used to correct color.
82
Q

Why was the échelle des crus created in the early 20th century?

A

To establish grape prices that a grower could receive for their fruit in accordance to how villages in Champagne were ranked.

Villages that achieved the maximum échelle (“scale”) of 100 were classified as grands crus; villages that achieved an échelle of 90-99 were classified as premier crus. Villages with a rating of 80-89 were simply crus.

83
Q

The échelle des crus was dismantled in 2010 under EU pressure, but the Grand Cru and Premier Cru village designations still exist.

Today, how does the Comité Champagne navigate grape pricing without the échelle des crus?

A

Today, instead of regulating pricing the Comité Champagne recommends pricing and supervises the exchange between growers and Champagne houses in order to promote fairness.

84
Q

Why do large Champagne houses focus on their blended wines and vintage wines over individual villages or vineyards?

A

Large Champagne houses want to emphasize the quality of a vintage or their skill at crafting prestige cuvées rather than highlighting a village or vineyard.

85
Q

How many growers are there in Champagne?

What percent of the total vineyard area in Champagne do these growers own?

A

>15,000 growers who own 90% of the total vineyard area

86
Q

How many Champagne houses exist in Champagne?

What percent of the total vineyard area in Champagne do these houses own?

A

360 Champagne houses own 10% of the total vineyard area

87
Q

What is the name of the company that owns the largest grouping of Champagne houses (the company that owns Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon, Mercier, Veuve Clicquot, Ruinart and Krug)?

A

LVMH

88
Q

What is a Négociant manipulant (NM)?

A
  • Buys grapes, must, or wine to make Champagne on their own premises;
  • Markets this wine under their own label;
  • All big Champagne houses are NM.
89
Q

What is a Récoltant manipulant (RM)?

A
  • Makes and markets their own label from grapes exclusively sourced from their own vineyards and processed on their own premises;
  • Also known as a ‘Grower Champagne’.
90
Q

What is a Coopérative de manipulation (CM)?

A

A wine cooperative made up of a group of small growers that blends their grapes collectively and markets Champagne under its own label.

91
Q

What percent of Champagne sales account for export, and what percent accounts for domestic market sales?

A

50% of all Champagne sales are exports, and 50% of all Champagne sales are in the domestic market.

92
Q

Why does the Comité Champagne set a maximum yield for base wine and reserves?

A

They assess world demand and progress of the season so as not to oversupply the global market.

93
Q

Half of all Champagne produced is consumed where?

A

France (supermarket champagne!)

94
Q

What are Champagne’s three main export markets?

A
  1. UK (most by volume)
  2. USA
  3. Japan
95
Q

What are some factors that can increase the cost of Champagne production?

A
  • Using Grand Cru fruit;
  • Vintage Champagne is more expensive to make than Non-vintage;
  • Using oak;
  • Making rosé, because red wine is needed to color the wine.
96
Q

For a large Champagne house, how much of the price per bottle goes toward marketing?

A

~20% of the price per bottle goes toward marketing costs

97
Q

What is the normal maximum yield for Champagne?

What can it be raised to, and where does that surplus go?

A

Normal max yield: 79 hL/ha

Can be raised to 98 hL/ha; surplus goes into reserve

98
Q

List 8 reasons behind the purpose of blending wine (assemblage) in Champagne.

A
  1. Balance
  2. Complexity
  3. Consistency
  4. Minimizing faults
  5. Price
  6. Rosé (if making rosé)
  7. Style
  8. Volume
99
Q

What was the first vintage of Krug’s Clos du Mesnil?

A

1979

And it was released in 1986