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Wines from Champagne

The Champagne appellation is one of the most famous AOC in the world, it is the only one authorized to bear the prestigious name "Champagne".

10 Product(s)

10 Product(s)

How the myth was born
The first to import the culture of the vine, the Romans, amateurs and experts in viticulture, spotted the slopes most favourable to the wine, chose the best drained soils, the coasts most exposed to the sun. Then the bishops, including the archbishop of Reims, as well as the great abbeys of Hautvillers, Saint-Nicaise and Saint-Thierry, became the owners of the vines, taking over those left by the Romans. During the Middle Ages, the wines of Champagne began to develop naturally an ephemeral and distinguished effervescence, due to an unfinished fermentation of the must. The reds are astonishingly clear or white. Moreover, lively and light, called clairets, they are not very sweet.

A certain Dom Pérignon, a cellar monk from the Abbey of Hautvillers, transformed the blending into a protocolic know-how. Others with him succeeded in better balancing the wines by selecting grapes from different origins. Much later, the Champagne Houses blended different grape varieties, vintages and even different years into a single wine in order to obtain a quality superior to the sum of each separate grape variety in each wine. The first "Houses" were created at the end of the 17th century: Ruinart was created in 1729, Moët in 1743, Delamotte in 1760 and Veuve Clicquot in 1772.

But the real stroke of genius of the inhabitants of Champagne is indeed the acquisition and mastery of the effervescence. The myth of Champagne was born! After many years when the making of what was then called "le mousseux" is still very risky, experience shows that sparkling wine when decanted into bottles immediately after the harvest and until the month of May. Thicker glass bottles were made at the end of the 18th century for this purpose, capable of holding up under high pressure. Then cork stoppers replace the old closing systems. The wine of Champagne will always be closely linked to the king and the nobility and will be designated as "wine of kings" because it will be used during the coronations. From the 19th century onwards, the Houses set out to conquer the whole world, wishing to make themselves known to the aristocratic elite. Their representatives lived real adventures, sometimes perilous, on journeys that took them as far as Russia or the United States. Champagne became the symbol of cheerfulness and celebration, especially afterwards during the Belle Epoque and the Roaring Twenties.

The history of the name Champagne
The expression "vin de Champagne" began to be used around 1600. The term "sparkling" is also very often used.
Little by little, the name "Champagne" is asserted and the Champenois make it official from 1911, date when the law requires the mention of it on all the identification documents (label, cork...).

A bit of geography and technique
3 main sub-regions of the Champagne appellation together produce almost 250 million bottles: the Côte des Blancs, the Montage de Reims and the Marne Valley. In winter, the climate is rather mild and humid. In summer and autumn, the vines are well sunny to allow a good ripening of the grapes. The soil is ideal for vine growing (chalk, clay, limestone) because it absorbs heat by reflecting light and keeping the necessary humidity for the roots. The traditional manufacturing protocol is still followed, but a second fermentation takes place afterwards, called "prise de mousse". It is at this point that the Champagne develops particular aromas and becomes effervescent. The "dosage" phase, just before the cork is put in place, is when the winemaker decides on the concentration of cane sugar and old wine that will give the champagne all its qualities and place it in one of the 4 categories: extra-brut, brut, dry or demi-sec.

Each grape variety used in Champagne has its own particularity: Chardonnay is rather elegant and fresh, Pinot Noir, which is fruitier, and Pinot Meunier, which is sought after for its body. These grape varieties are blended in order to allow a better quality of the wines.

Acquisition of the appellation Champagne
Following the almost total destruction of the vineyard due to phylloxera (early 20th century) and the First World War, the people of Champagne had to pull up the diseased plants and replant grafted vines (the "crowded" vines were replaced by palisaded vines, i.e. a different density). The winegrowers of Champagne will only replant on the best terroirs. In 1919, the vineyard is only 12,000 ha (instead of 60,000 at the end of the 19th century). Realizing that they were in possession of a collective heritage to be protected and the people of Champagne decided to obtain this protection by fixing a specific area for the cultivation of vines and common production rules, which led to the designation of the Champagne appellation in 1936.