Wines from Champagne
Associated with luxury, celebration, Champagne is where the world’s most prized sparkling wine originates. In the past it was very common for people to confuse the term Champagne and sparkling wine as they are so synonymous. By EU law however, only sparkling wine made in the Champagne region and under strict quality standards can legally be called by that name.
Sparkling wine produced the Champagne way, goes through secondary fermentation in the bottle. This is known as méthode champenoise or outside of Champagne it is called the traditional method. When the yeast inside the bottle have finished working, they die and become lees. The lees remain in contact with the wine until the winemaker decides to take them out, creating texture, richness, and complexity in the wine.
In comparison, the other popular way of fermenting sparkling wine is called the Charmat method where the fermentation happens en masse in a large tank and extended lees contact does not happen. . This is cheaper and rather than emphasizing richness and complexity, the tank method enhances clean fruit and aromatics, making wines that are youthful and easy drinking.
The principal grapes that go into making champagne include: Chardonnay (white), Pinot Noir (red) and Pinot Meunier (red). A Champagne made exclusively from Chardonnay will be labelled Blanc de blancs while ones comprised of only red grapes will be called Blanc de noirs. Whether it be white or rose however, most Champagne is made from a mix of both red and white grapes.