Grapes and Wine in Champagne
The development of the Champagne Wine region
While not the largest wine region in the world, Champagne certainly produces one of the most exciting wines.
The development of vineyards in the Champagne region dates from round the 5th century, occurring with the spread of Christianity. In early times it made still wines and it was not until the 17th century that a French monk called Dom Perignon discovered the process of producing sparkling wine the we now know as Methode Champenoise, in which fermentation takes place inside the bottle. He worked out how to manage the fermentation process along with developing corks, the adding of sugar and yeast for secondary fermentation, and stronger bottle design.
The 1700s saw the development of the sparkling wine industry in Champagne and the establishment of the the Champagne houses, with Ruinart becoming the first recorded Champagne house. In 1743 Claude Moet founded what was to become the largest champagne house today, the House of Moet.
Principal Grape Varieties
- gives body and structure
- brings fruitiness and aromas
- provides freshness and elegance
FACTS ON GRAPE GROWING AND WINE-MAKING IN CHAMPAGNE
Size of the vineyards: 35,000 hectares (85,000 acres)
Production volume: 103,400 hectolitres (2006) 320 million bottles
Grapes: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier,Chardonnay planted with vine density of 10,000 per hectare
Vineyards: 15,113 vineyards - 300 villages
Soil: A predominantly chalky area with a thin layer of topsoil which provides good drainage on hillside vineyards on rolling countryside with south-facing slopes.
Weather: Cool winters and sunny summers and autumns, the average temperature around 11 to 12 C
AREAS OF PRODUCTION
While there are five areas of production the bulk of the champagne grapes come from:
Montagne de Reims - the most northerly area, which is planted mainly with Pinot Noir, mainly on north-facing slopes.
Côte des Blancs - a mostly east-facing region south of Epernay. It is almost entirely planted with Chardonnay.
Vallée de la Marne - the area runs west-east, and is planted with all three grape varieties, although the Pinot Meunier dominates.
STYLES of CHAMPAGNE
Champagne is produced in different styles determined by a number of factors. The selection of grapes both in respect of the variety and the quality, the base wine-making method, the cellar treatment and length of cellaring, and the final dosage finishing.
Non-vintage (NV) champagne is produced by blending wine from the three permitted grapes, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, from 2 or 3 years production. In this way they get consistency in terms of taste and quality. These champagnes are ready to drink and usually don't benefit from cellaring.
Ployez-Jacquemart Champagne Extra Quality Brut
Vintage is made from a single vintage (year), however it is only made if the crop is good enough. While these wines have had 6 years maturing in cellars to develop complexity they are capable of further development if cellared.
Ployez-Jacquemart Champagne Vintage 2002
Description: 2002 was one of those crops which allowed the production of elegant, well-balanced wines. The variety and quality of the different Chardonnays from Premiers and Grands Crus villages such as Cuis, Cramant, Oger, Mesnil sur Oger, Bisseuil, Tauxières and Ludes produced a beautiful vintage blanc de blancs (white wine from white grapes) blend.
Blanc de Blancs
Blanc de Blancs champagne is made entirely from Chardonnay grapes and is characterised by a fruity bouquet, light colour, creamy palate and elegant finish. Their popularity has grown steadily in recent years and they now make up a considerable amount of production.
Champagne Forget - Chauvet Blanc de Blancs
Blanc de Noirs
Blanc de Noirs is permitted to be made with the black grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, however, it is often only Pinot Noir, and is blended from 2 or 3 years.
Champagne Louis Dousset Blanc de Noirs
Made from 100% Pinot Noir, years 1999 and 2000, from Mailly-Champagne, Verzy, and Verzenay.
Tasting notes: deep yellow colour with green reflects, fine bubbles, flavours of citrus fruits and candied fruits, elegant, well-balanced taste with a persistent and nice length of finish.
Rose, pink Champagne, is made with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, the grapes being fermented separately and the red wine blended with the white wine after fermentation to give stability and good colour. These are serious champagnes and characterised by beautiful bubbles, very fresh pink colour, fruity, fresh bouquet.
Ployez-Jacquemart Champagne Grande Réserve Rosé
These are top of the range champagnes and the quality is usually reflected in the price. The de-luxe cuvées are usually made with grapes from Grand Cru vineyards and are suitable for cellaring.
Champagne Blondel Cuvée Prestige Brut Premier Cru
Described as"Un champagne rare à déguster entre connaisseurs" A rare champagne to taste between connoisseurs. After tasting this champagne we totally concur with the statement.