Immediately after the harvest

Arrival at the pressing centre

Pressurage du raisin en Champagne

A gentle, careful approach to obtain the best juice

The freshly picked grapes are taken to the pressing centre as quickly as possible. Pressing is done separately by grape variety and by growth to maintain this traceability. The whole clusters are pressed as carefully and gently as possible so as not to colour the juice through excessive contact time with the skins – unless, of course, the aim is to make a rosé wine using the maceration or saignée (bleeding off the juices) method.

Pressing is carried out in two stages: the "cuvée" corresponds to the first pressing juice, and the "taille" the second. Each has its own distinct characteristics and will therefore be used to make different types of wine. Champagne presses have capacities ranging from 2,000kg to 12,000kg of whole grapes. Between each 4,000kg "marc" (traditional unit of measurement for a press-load of grapes), these cages must be emptied and rinsed with water.

Mindful about minimising its impact on the environment, Champagne requires the pressing residues to be sent for distillation. The water used to clean the cages, picking boxes and wine-making tanks is recovered and treated fully.

The rules governing pressing are strictly defined to ensure that exceptional wines are obtained right across the AOC area. Pressing centres are approved and inspected at regular intervals to ensure that these rules are complied with. Up until the late 1980s, Champagne presses were entirely manual. These still account for 18% of the presses in use today, but the majority are now mechanical, constantly harnessing the latest technical developments for ever greater precision in the monitoring and implementation of the pressing process.

 A step where patience is absolutely essential  A step where patience is absolutely essential