Champagnes or Sparkling Wines:
Named from a small town in France, Champagne was actually the first wine was made about 2,000 years ago. Champagne was already famous in the middle-age. But it was not the same wine we use to drink these days. At that time, wine was red or white not sparkling, quite similar to wine from Burgundy. People used barrels to ship their wines. They noticed that the next Spring season following the harvest, the wine tended to foam. It was not good for business.The first Champagne was made in the 17th century. A monk called Dom Perignon was the first to understand the process of Champagne fermentation and to elaborate the process. He managed to mix red and white grapes from different villages and therefore perfected the way winemakers at that time used to produce sparkling wine. Nowadays, Champagne is a festive wine.
Today, at most Champagne wineries including ones in Napa and Sonoma, they prefer that you refer to them as "sparkling wines." This is all due to paying tribute and respect to the people of Champagne, France. So if you're in a sparkling wine winery, be sure to see if they call if their sparkling wines Champagne or not. If it says Champagne on their bottles, you're free to call it that. Domaine Chandon and Mumm in Napa Valley are technically sparkling wines.
Champagne region is located East of Paris, along the Marne, Vesle and Aisne rivers. The wine region starts 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Paris, around the city of Meaux and stretches along the Marne river to the city of Epernay.
Weather is quite special in Champagne, France. The Winter is cool; Summer and Fall are sunny. The average temperature in the region is around 11 to 12 C (52 to 53.5 F). Champagne is the most up north wine region in France. Sparkling wine usually come from areas where grapes don't have enough sun to ripe according to other wine standards.
Types of Champagnes:
Blanc de Blancs:
This Champagne is made only with Chardonnay ( white grape). There are only a few bottles made and there are quite expensive. The wine is more delicate than regular Champagne. It is the best aperitif wine available in France.
Blanc de Noirs:
This Champagne is made with black grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Most of the time, there is only Pinot Noir. Very few bottles are available, even less than Blanc de blancs.
Pink Champagne is made with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. Winemakers add a little bit of red wine during blending. Red wine is usually coming from Bouzy, a typical Pinot Noir still wine from Champagne. Do not confuse Pink Champagne with Rosé des Cireys which is a true rosé wine.
The Champagne Making Process:
Conversion of natural sugar into alcohol, the grape juice turns into still wine.
1: alcoholic fermentation
Conversion of natural sugar into alcohol, the grape juice turns into still wine
2: assembling the wine
Liquid from different harvests, from different areas are blend together.
The Champagne is put in bottle with yeast and sugar.
4: malolactic fermentation
The yeasts turn sugar into alcohol and CO2. The carbon dioxide (CO2) cannot escape from the bottle and is dissolved in the Champagne, forming the bubbles.
Champagne bottles are stored horizontally in natural cool and dark chalk cellar for 1 to 3 years.
During maturation, the winemaker rotates the bottles every day to remove the lees.