About Me


Gavin Hubble - (BSc & Post Grad. Business Marketing) - I started working in the wine industry over 23 years ago in New Zealand. Working in; wine retail, sales, wine production, label & packaging design, marketing, wine buying, consulting and wine education. I am responsible for the Brand Health of 60+ wine brands distributed here in New Zealand. Wine Brands from New Zealand, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina. I work closely with the Trade Industry - (Retail Stores & Restaurants) introducing, educating and positioning exciting and unique brands to wine enthusiasts all over the world.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Champagne

Champagne is both a region and a method. The wines come from the northern most vineyards in France - the name conjures an image like no other.
An 18th Century Benedictine monk named Dom Perignon was the first to document that the cold winters stopped still wine fermenting, then as the climate warmed, it started again. This second fermentation produced CO2 in the bottle, meaning the wines had a sparkle that was quite appealing. Unfortunately, the strength of this second fermentation frequently exploded the flimsy bottles of the day. Extra thick bottles were made in the UK - and as they say the rest is history.

 

Champagne is made from 3 grapes: Chardonnay, and two black grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Each plays their own part in the blend. Being a white wine from red grapes, this is a delicate process.
Champagne is made to a strictly controlled process called "Methode Champenoise." The grapes are pressed and fermented to make a still wine. Blending follows, then a blend of sugar and yeast is added and the wine is bottled and temporarily capped with a crown cap. Second fermentation, the CO2 that is lost to the air when making a still wine is captured inside the bottle. This process leaves sediment (dead yeast cells) that is extracted through a process of "riddling." The bottles are progressively turned upside down until all the sediment is collected in the neck. The necks are then frozen and the sediment is "disgorged."

After this phase, the winemaker may decide to add a natural sugar liqueur to determine the final sweetness of the wine. Champagnes range from dry, 'Brut', to slightly sweet, 'Demi-Sec'. Finally the wine is corked and labeled. Law requires 15 months ageing for non vintage Champagne, a few top houses age their wine longer to build greater complexity and depth - e.g. Pol Roger Brut Reserve NV is matured for 3 years. NV Champagne doesn't benefit from ageing, the winemaker has done all the hard work to make sure it is ready to drink when you buy it.

Related Articles:

Champagne Flute
Chardonnay
Cuvée
Epernay
Opening a bottle of Champagne
Pinot Meunier
Pinot Noir
Reims
 

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