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Answers to your questions
Authorised harvest yields are not fixed and vary year on year. The Executive Board of the Comité Champagne (made up of representatives of Champagne Houses and Growers) determines the maximum yield that can be picked per hectare. The Champagne region sets this annual yield within the limit of the maximum yield determined by the European Union: 15,500 kg/ha.
The date varies depending on the ripeness of the grapes across the different regions making up the Champagne winegrowing area.
A network for monitoring grape ripeness was set up back in 1956 to define the harvest date and conditions as precisely as possible. Based on the 600 control plots dotted across the Champagne vineyard area, it is set in motion just as the grapes begin to change colour (véraison) in order to measure, by taking samples of clusters twice a week, the rate of colour change, average cluster weight, estimated sugar content and total acidity for example. Every year, the Comité Champagne uses this data to set the date for when picking may start in each winegrowing municipality and for each grape variety based on the level of ripeness of their grapes. By picking the grapes at peak ripeness, the quality of the wines is enhanced.
At harvest time, nearly 120,000 seasonal workers, in teams of about four per hectare, get involved in manually picking the clusters of grapes over the 34,200 hectares of the appellation.
The planting density in Champagne is around 8,000 vine plants per hectare. The aim of such a density is to optimise fruit quality. The more numerous the plants, the more they compete for nutrients and therefore the lower the crop load per plant. If the vine plant has a small crop load, all of its reserves will be devoted to this load and to its quality.
A Coopérative de manipulation makes, on its own premises, wines using its members' grapes.
A vine plant can live for a very long time - up to 50 years or more. Beyond that, its yield will begin to diminish.
The producer, irrespective of whether they have négociant, récoltant or coopérative status, sells finished bottles that are labelled with the brand of the client who is buying the bottles (i.e. an own-brand wine label).
A Négociant Distributeur buys wines in finished bottles on which they affix labelling on their own premises.
A Négociant Manipulant (NM) is an individual or company who, in addition to the grapes sourced from their own vines, if they have any, buys grapes, musts or wines to make Champagne on their own premises.
A Récoltant Manipulant (RM) makes own-label Champagne from grapes exclusively sourced from their own vineyards.
A Récoltant-Coopérateur (RC) delivers grapes from their own harvest to their cooperative then retrieves from this cooperative the musts or wines in the process of being made or ready to be sold.
Growers spend the bulk of their time working in the vineyard. Most of their tasks are done by hand and add up to several hundred hours of work per hectare. The first task is winter pruning: this is absolutely essential as the quality of the harvest will depend on it. Then come the springtime tasks, which involve managing the growth of the vegetation: desuckering/debudding, lifting, trellising and finally trimming in the summer which will last until harvest time.
Harvesting begins about 90 days after full flowering, so typically in September. This date is heavily contingent on the weather however, and may need to change accordingly.
Champagne is one of the few remaining wine regions to still harvest grapes fully by hand. The legislation stipulates that the clusters of grapes must reach the pressing centre whole. Harvesting machines today operate on the principle of threshing, which involves shaking the vine plants to make not just the clusters but also the grapes fall off. The only way to pick whole, undamaged clusters to date is to harvest by hand.
Choosing your bottle
(Yes) Depending on the sugar content, expressed in grams per litre, the wine is described as: Brut (less than 12 grams of sugar per litre), Demi-Sec (between 32 and 50 grams), Sec (between 17 and 32 grams), Extra-Dry (12 and 17 grams), Doux (more than 50 grams), Extra-Brut (between 0 and 6 grams) or Brut Nature, Pas Dosé or Dosage Zéro, for a content of less than 3 grams or if the wine does not contain any added sugar.
When a year is indicated on a bottle of Champagne, it means this is a vintage Champagne. In that case, it was made exclusively from grapes harvested that year, and it is the harvest year that is indicated on the bottle. Most Champagnes are non-vintage, which means they are made from a blend of different years. No year can be indicated in that case.
A label gives you information about the wine in the bottle and is quite easy to understand. Several indications are mandatory on a Champagne bottle. Its labels (front and back as well as the neck band) must state the designation AOC "Champagne", the sugar content (dosage: brut, sec, demi-sec, etc.), the alcohol content (% vol), the nominal volume of the bottle (in l, cl or ml), the Champagne brand, the producer's name, the name of the municipality where their registered office is located and "France", the professional registration number, the batch identification, "produit de France" (product of France), allergen information and a statement warning of the danger of alcohol consumption for pregnant women.
A Champagne Blanc de Blancs is a wine made exclusively from white grapes such as Chardonnay and/or, very occasionally, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Arbane or Petit Meslier, which are the other white grape varieties authorised in Champagne.
A Champagne Blanc de Noirs is a wine made exclusively from dark-skinned grapes such as Pinot Noir and/or Meunier.
A Champagne Nature, also called "Pas Dosé" or "Dosage Zéro", is a Champagne containing less than 3 grams of sugar per litre. No dosage liqueur will have been added to it.
A Champagne Brut is a Champagne containing less than 12 grams of sugar per litre. The sugar is added during the "dosage" stage by the dosage liqueur (also known as "liqueur d'expédition").
A Champagne Demi-Sec is a Champagne containing between 32 and 50 grams of sugar per litre. The sugar is added during the "dosage" stage by the dosage liqueur (also known as "liqueur d'expédition").
A Champagne Doux is a Champagne containing more than 50 grams of sugar per litre, which makes it the sweetest Champagne. The sugar is added during the "dosage" stage by the dosage liqueur (also known as "liqueur d'expédition").
A Champagne Extra-Dry is a Champagne containing between 12 and 17 grams of sugar per litre. The sugar is added during the "dosage" stage by the dosage liqueur (also known as "liqueur d'expédition").
A Champagne Rosé has more colour and body than regular Champagne. It is made either by macerating black grapes or by blending with red Champagne wine.
A Champagne Sec is a Champagne containing between 17 and 32 grams of sugar per litre. The sugar is added during the "dosage" stage by the dosage liqueur (also known as "liqueur d'expédition").
Non-vintage Champagne Brut (BSA in French) is the most common Champagne. It is a cuvee which can be a blend of several years (this isn't possible for a vintage Champagne). It is typically the wine for which its style is perpetuated year on year by the brand, a signature wine.
A vintage Champagne is made solely from wines harvested that same year and does not therefore contain any reserve wines. A producer decides to make a vintage wine when the harvests have been outstanding in a particular year. These wines are known for being full of character.
The alcohol content in a bottle of Champagne tends to be about 12%. Whatever the sugar content chosen during its production, this percentage stays the same, with a +/- 0.7% variation depending on the type of Champagne. As with all alcoholic beverages, Champagne should be drunk in moderation.
Yes. Organic champagnes are sold with the French Agriculture Biologique (AB) label, which guarantees that only the grape production is organic and not the cellar work, which is still not regulated in this area. There is also the French Nature & Progrès label which requires compliance with their winemaking specifications and for which organic (AB) certification is a prerequisite.
For biodynamic champagnes, the Demeter and Biodyvin labels certify the approach.
Producing in the most environmentally-friendly way possible is a duty for a highly reputable appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC). Increasing store has been set by this longstanding concern over the past twenty or so years and it is now part of an activity-related sustainability goal. The goals are clear:
- 100% of the winegrowing region with environmental certification by 2030
- -75% carbon footprint by 2050
Thanks to measures taken particularly over the past two decades, the Champagne sector is showing encouraging results: the carbon footprint per bottle has been cut by 20% thanks to lighter bottles, the use of plant protection products and nitrogen fertilisers has fallen by 50%, 90% of industrial waste is treated and recycled, 100% of wine-production effluents and by-products are recycled and 50% of the area has secured environmental certification (Haute Valeur Environnementale/Viticulture Durable en Champagne).
As such, Champagne is a pioneering region: it is the leading winegrowing area in France to use mating disruption, it has the largest fleet of high clearance electric tractors, and was the first area to assess its Carbon Footprint (back in 2003).
VDC stands for Viticulture Durable en Champagne (Sustainable Viticulture in Champagne). Developed by the Comité Champagne, it is a certification aimed at the official recognition of Champagne winemakers' environmental performance.
Sustainable Viticulture in Champagne refers to the application of sustainable development principles to viticulture. It is a voluntary approach that relies on the day-to-day commitment of Champagne winemakers in 3 areas:
- Biodiversity footprint
- Carbon footprint
- Water footprint
Today, 36% of the Champagne vineyard area is already VDC certified.
The recommended serving temperature for Champagne is between 8 and 10°C.
You need to begin by removing the wire cage and its foil cap, untwisting the metal loop to loosen it whilst keeping a firm grip on the cork. Then, still holding firmly onto the cork, take hold of the bottle and tilt it to a 30-45° angle, being careful to point it safely away from anyone. Finally, rotate the bottle to gently slide the cork out of the bottle neck without letting it pop out.
A standard bottle of Champagne, in the most common format (75cl), can serve an average of six 12.5cl flutes. This is just an indication though and the number may vary depending on the size of the glasses used.
Ideally, Champagne should be served in two stages, two-thirds filling the flute. Do not take the person's glass when pouring.
Ideally, the glass should be fairly tall and tulip-shaped, i.e. bulbous at the bottom to give the bubbles enough room to develop but which tapers at the top to fully concentrate the aromas. It should be rinsed in hot water, without using any detergent, then left to drain or dried gently with a cotton tea towel by hand. The aim is to protect the surface of the glass so as not to reduce its ability to generate bubbles and keep the delicate stream of fine bubbles (cordon de mousse) at the surface.
Since you are advised against taking the person's glass when serving Champagne, there is no need to tilt the glass when pouring.
The coupe is short with a fairly wide opening. As such, it is not suitable for drinking Champagne, since the bubbles and aromas escape too quickly due to its shape.
The flute is tall and slender. Although most people associate it with serving Champagne, it is not the glass that wine tasters would tend to choose, as it is too narrow for the aromas to fully develop.
The ideal glass is tulip-shaped, i.e. fairly tall and bulbous to give the bubbles enough room to develop, which tapers at the top to allow maximum concentration of the aromas.
To chill a bottle of Champagne, put it in an ice bucket filled half with water and half with ice, 30 minutes before serving. Alternatively, you can put it at the bottom of the fridge a few hours before opening.
There is a huge variety of Champagne styles, such as white, rosé, vintage, brut (meaning dry) or doux (meaning sweet). Therefore, there's one to suit every occasion! Champagne can obviously be enjoyed when there's something to celebrate: at key times of year (Christmas, New Year, Valentine's Day, etc.), personal achievements (birthdays, passing an exam, etc.) or major family events (weddings, births, christenings, etc.). But apart from these special occasions, Champagne can also be served at other get-togethers through the year, such as lunches with family or friends, tasting sessions or on summer evenings. After all, Champagne is a wine, which can be savoured at any time.
As with any wine, Champagne should ideally be rested before drinking. If it has been carried on a long journey, it would be best to wait a few days before drinking it.
To store Champagne in the best possible conditions, it is recommended to put it in a cellar at a temperature of between 10 and 15°C. The fridge is therefore not the best place to keep it. However, a bottle of Champagne can be put at the bottom of the fridge a few hours before serving to chill it.
An opened bottle can be kept for one or two days if it is immediately recorked with a special airtight cap. This should be metal, with a rubber ring that fits onto the bottle neck, held in place by two latches that grip the bottle neck just under the lip. This cap is called a "stopper". You can buy one at your local wine merchant.
To store a bottle of Champagne under the best conditions, you need to: store the bottles in a dedicated dark space free of odours, ventilate the storage space, store the bottles upright or lying down, ideally at a temperature between 10 and 15°C and ideally at a humidity level of 60% to 80%.
Champagne is marketed after a minimum ageing period which allows it to express the tertiary aromas (that come with ageing) of a young wine. Depending on tastes and the ageing capacities of the year, to be determined by the producer, it can be laid down until it develops the tertiary aromas of a more mature Champagne.
A piece of advice that is often told is to not store the bottles upright, as this could dry out the cork. But that risk is impossible within the damp atmosphere of a cellar and the liquid inside the bottle. Therefore it does not matter whether you store them upright or on the side, even if, for the sake of convenience, they tend to be stored lying down.
The standard Champagne bottle has a capacity of 75cl, but magnums (1.5l) are also fairly common, especially at parties and special occasions. There is a Champagne bottle format for every occasion. Champagne is the only wine to come in a very wide range of bottle sizes, from the most compact and convenient to the grandest: quarter (20cl), half-bottle (37.5cl), medium/pinte (50cl), standard (75cl), magnum (1.5l), Jeroboam (3l), Rehoboam (4.5l), Mathusalem (6l), Salmanazar (9l), Balthazar (12l), Nabuchodonosor (15l), Salomon (18l), Souverain (26.25l), Primat (27l) and Melchizedec or Midas (30l).
History of Champagne
Because the Kingdom of France was born with Clovis' baptism in Reims, a city in the Champagne region, wine from this region would come to be closely associated with the king and with nobility, before later becoming known as the wine of coronation and the "the wine of Kings and the King of wines". From 898 until 1825, France's Kings would be crowned in Reims. Champagne wines were said to flow freely at all the coronation banquets. Soon highly prized for their taste and finesse, it became customary to gift these wines to any royalty visiting the region. And so this is where the legendary status of Champagne began...
Champagne as we know it today can be traced back to the period running from the turn of the 18th and end of the 19th centuries, thanks to greater control of the effervescence. As this is a natural phenomenon, it is fragile and complex.
To control the "prise de mousse", literally capturing the fizz in Champagne, Champagne makers introduced double fermentation known as the "Méthode Champenoise". With the old fermentation process, which was interrupted and then resumed, it was difficult to obtain the exact pressure sought. With the Méthode Champenoise, a primary fermentation stage is carried out in tanks to turn the must into wine from the naturally occurring grape sugars - all of which should have been converted into alcohol by the end of the process. Then the secondary fermentation is carried out in bottles – now known as the "prise de mousse" stage – when the wine becomes sparkling.
At the same time, other innovations have been embraced in the production of Champagne such as the development of more resistant bottles or the creation of riddling racks (pupitres) to foster disgorgement. Nowadays, all of the stages are controlled and unchanged.
Initially, still wines, i.e. non-sparkling, were made in Champagne. After harvesting and pressing, the musts were put into barrels to ferment. Because of the cold climate, the fermentation stage stopped fairly quickly. The wines retained some of their sugar and fermentation resumed in the spring. The gas generated during the second fermentation stage made the wine “bubble”, but escaped from the barrels. For this reason, the wines were more or less effervescent depending on how cold it was in the winter and when they were actually drunk.
In the late 17th century, as Champagne makers sought ways to better store and transport their wines, they decided to bottle the wine instead of putting it into barrels. This kept the effervescence (sparkling bubbles) arising during the wine's fermentation in the bottle, and these bubbles only appeared once the Champagne was in a glass. Their change of method proved popular straightaway, even though the effervescence achieved varied a lot in the early days, something which the Champagne makers tried to control. This marked the beginning of Champagne.
Champagne originated in the region from where it gets its name, Champagne, in Northeast France.
Champagne wasn't invented by anyone. Fermentation is a natural phenomenon and the effervescence of wines has been observed since ancient times, in various parts of the world. But Champagne was the first region to have sought to understand and control this phenomenon, to intentionally make sparkling wine from grapes grown in their region.
Champagne bubbles appear when it is poured into the glass. They form on microparticles attached to the sides of the glass or suspended in the wine, as well as on imperfections in the surface of the glass. Even if it might look completely clean, a glass will always have tiny blemishes that help bubbles to form.
If we consider that the average diameter of a bubble is 0.5 millimetres and that wine contains roughly 12g of carbon dioxide per litre, we can calculate that a 10cl glass contains an estimated 11 million bubbles. This is only a theoretical figure, however, since nearly 80% of carbon dioxide escapes to the surface of the glass without generating any bubbles!
The pressure inside a Champagne bottle is within the range of 5 to 6 bar. To give you a clearer idea, that's about three times the pressure of a car tyre.
Someone who collects wine labels is called an "œnographile".
Someone who collects the metal plates from the wire cages of Champagne bottles is called a “placomusophile”.
The metal plate on the Champagne cork is called a "capsule" or "plaque de muselet". It protects the cork before the wire cage is fitted. These metal plates are a source of fascination for many collectors and have their own repertoire, which is updated annually for the attention of “placomusophiles” and contains thousands of entries.
The metallic item around the Champagne cork is called a muselet. This wire cage stops the cork from popping under the effect of pressure.
The first use of cork as a stopper on Champagne wines is commonly attributed to Hautvillers Abbey where, as early as 1737, there is mention of cork trading with other abbeys. The first cork makers, from Catalonia, set up in Reims and Épernay from 1740.
Champagne bottles are green, or sometimes brown, to protect the wine. These colours limit the penetration of UV rays through the bottle, thereby preventing lightstrike (unpleasant aromas caused by excessive exposure to light).
When it is made, a Champagne bottle cork is cylindrical in shape. After a few years, the cork changes shape to look more like a petticoat, i.e. pulled in at the waist ("jupon"). If the bottle is stored on its side, over time the bottom of the cork will become narrower, in the shape of a pin ("cheville"). Such a change has no adverse effect on the quality of the wine.
The effervescence of Champagne is a natural phenomenon that arises during bottle fermentation. It is produced by yeasts, living micro-organisms that transform grape sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide by fermentation. The gas mixes closely with the wine which then goes through the second fermentation stage, known as "prise de mousse".
As the last stage before leaving the Champagne cellars, the bottle is packaged and labelled. Champagne bottles comprise a cork and wire cage wrapped in foil (the "coiffe"), which extends down the neck of the bottle to the neck band or "collerette" fitted on most bottles. A label is affixed to the front of the bottle, and sometimes on the back too, stating the mandatory indications and consumer information.
A rosé Champagne can be made two ways: either by maceration or by blending white and red wines. The first method involves obtaining the pink colour by leaving black-skinned grapes to macerate either in a tank (which may or may not involve bleeding off the juices: saignée) before pressing, or in the press itself. Red Champagne wine is added to the base white wines (around 5 to 20%).
A white Champagne can be made from black grapes by slowly pressing whole clusters and enabling the juice to flow quickly through the grape press "cake". This does not give the pigments contained in the skin of black grapes enough time to colour the juice which flows from the presses.
Under the regulations, non-vintage wines must be aged in a cellar for at least 15 months and vintage wines for at least 3 years, from the date on which they are bottled. In practice, most producers extend this period by a few extra years.
1.2kg of grapes are required to make one bottle of Champagne.
Yes. Champagne is a type of sparkling wine. This is also why it is sometimes called "Champagne wine".
To control the "prise de mousse" or second fermentation stage, Champagne makers introduced bottle fermentation – this is the Méthode Champenoise. A primary fermentation stage is carried out in tanks, during which the naturally occurring grape sugars turn the must into wine. When this stage is complete, there should not be any sugar left in the wine. It is then time for the bottle fermentation – or "prise de mousse" – stage, the purpose of which is to make the wine sparkling.
Champagne shipments represent an average of 300 million bottles a year.
There are 370 registered Champagne Houses. They are wine merchants.
There are 130 registered local and regional wine cooperatives right across the Champagne winegrowing area.
There are 16,200 registered vinegrowers. Some sell their harvested grapes to the Houses, others are members of cooperative cellars when they do not produce themselves as Récoltants-Manipulants (growers who make and market Champagne wines, using grapes exclusively sourced from their own vineyards).
France is the number one market for Champagne. Regarding exports, the main markets in terms of value are the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan.
A cooperative is a group of growers. There are two types of cooperative. Those which pool pressing and winemaking tools for their members are known as Récoltants-Coopérateurs. And those who, in addition to pooling tools, buy grapes from their members to produce a wine in the brand of the cooperative, are known as Coopératives de manipulation.
A Champagne House, in addition to the grapes sourced from its own vines (if it has any) buys grapes from other Champagne growers, makes wines on its premises and markets own-label Champagne.
Growers tend to their vines to produce grapes. Some sell their harvested grapes to the Houses, while others may be members of cooperative cellars (Récoltants Coopérateurs) and do not produce Champagne themselves.
Récoltants-Manipulants are growers who make and market own-label Champagne from grapes exclusively sourced from their own vineyards.
Champagne winegrowing area
There are nearly 281,000 plots across the vineyard area, each one measuring roughly 12 ares (1 are = 100 sq.m.).
On 4 July 2015, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee decided to inscribe the "Champagne Hillsides, Houses and Cellars" on the World Heritage list.
It is thus the Outstanding Universal Value of the Champagne vineyard landscape, which gave rise to Champagne wine, that is now recognised…
…as well as, more broadly, all the work that is done to grow the grapes, make and distribute Champagne wine, and which is passed down and safeguarded in the 319 Champagne AOC municipalities across the 5 French départements of Marne, Aube, Aisne, Haute-Marne and Seine-et-Marne.
The French term "terroir" refers to the combination of climatic and geological factors, specific grape varieties and characteristic growing methods that form the defining hallmarks of each region. The Champagne terroir is particularly characterised by its northerly latitude and predominantly limestone subsoil, steep slopes, dual climate and unique expertise.
A cru corresponds to a winegrowing municipality. The Champagne vineyard area encompasses 319 crus across the five départements.
Before the reform of the INAO [Glossaire]Institut national de l’origine et de la qualité[/Glossaire]in 2007, there was a scale of crus in Champagne. Officially established for the first time in 1911 following discussions between growers and Houses, over time it progressed to the attribution, for each cru, of a percentage ranging from 80 to 100%. Accordingly, a cru with an 80% rating received 80% of the basic price, while a cru with a 95% rating received 95% of the basic price, etc. The Decree of 1 July 1952 officially introduced the terms “grand cru”, exclusively for wines from municipalities with a 100% rating, and “premier cru”, exclusively for wines from municipalities with a 90 to 100% rating. In 2010, the INAO scrapped the Champagne cru scale, but agreed that municipalities having previously received a "grand cru" and "premier cru" designation could retain this.
The Champagne vines, planted at the northernmost limits of their cold tolerance, benefit from a dual climate - continental and oceanic. Although the continental influence can sometimes cause devastating frosts in winter, it ensures ideal levels of sunshine in summer. The oceanic influence, which tends to keep temperatures on the low side with no significant variations in seasonal temperatures, ensures steady rainfall and no major fluctuations in temperature from one year to the next.
Champagne vines are planted at an altitude of between 90 and 300 metres. It is a hilly wine region, with mostly south-/south-east-/east-facing slopes. Their average gradient is 12%, but some can be as steep as almost 60%! The Champagne terroir therefore lies on sufficiently undulating, steep terrain to give the vines plenty of sunshine and facilitate excess water drainage.
The geographic wine region where the Champagne vineyards are located is commonly referred to as "Champagne Viticole" in French.
The subsoil in Champagne is predominantly limestone, with:
- Chalk: which acts as a water reservoir and temperature regulator,
- Marl: which retains just the right amount of moisture and heat from the sun,
- Hard limestone: which enables optimal water status and harnesses sunbeams,
- Sand: which fosters well-ventilated, drained soil,
- Heavy clay: which is able to hold water and acts as a nutrient reserve.
This type of subsoil helps to drain the soils and, as far as taste is concerned, brings the very distinctive minerality found in some Champagne wines.
Champagne is produced and made in the eponymous region of "Champagne", which lies about 150km north-east of Paris in the production area of Champagne AOC, which is defined by a law passed in 1927. This covers around 34,200 hectares. The Champagne winegrowing area is the most northern of all France's vineyards.
The Champagne vineyard area encompasses five départements: Marne, Aube, Aisne, Haute-Marne and Seine-et-Marne.
The law of 22 July 1927 determines which grape varieties may be used to make Champagne. Pinot
Noir (black grape), Meunier (black grape) and Chardonnay (white grape) are by far the most common today. Others, such as Arbane, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris (all white grapes) are also permitted, but account for less than 0.4% of the Champagne vineyard.
The winegrowing area is divided into four main regions: Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne, Côte des Blancs and Côte des Bar.
To keep your Champagne cool and preserve its fizz, it is best not to hold your glass at the top, as the heat from your hand will warm it up. Similarly, the higher up you hold the glass, the more odours (soap, perfume, etc.) will combine with the aromas of the wine, thereby altering its olfactory qualities when tasting. Tasting professionals therefore tend to hold the glass by its disc-shaped base. But it is also possible, and strongly advised in fact, to hold it by its stem.
Champagne is a multi-faceted wine! Depending on the terroir and grape variety used, the aromas expressed will differ. The 3 types of aromas that mainly exist are categorised as young, mature or full - which include the following: floral (white flowers, acacia, etc.), fruity (citrus, nuts, etc.), mineral (iodine, chalk, etc.), herbaceous (mint, hay, etc.), sweet pastry (brioche, biscuits, etc.), creamy (caramel, butter, etc.), spicy (honey, cinnamon, etc.) or empyreumatic (cocoa, coffee, etc.).
For pre-dinner drinks, the general tendency is to opt for a Champagne that is not too vinous, with no particularly dominant aromas: a non-vintage Brut or a non-vintage Blanc de Blancs for example. Serve it with lightly salted crackers, nuts, green olives and bite-sized pieces of Gruyère cheese.
If you choose a sweeter Champagne, i.e. sec or demi-sec, then it will pair wonderfully with sweet desserts and puddings. Serve it with creamy or fruit-based desserts as well as sweet pastries. However, avoid pairing it with chocolate desserts.
A non-vintage Champagne Brut can be served with a main course: this is the most common Champagne and can be enjoyed throughout a meal, whatever the type of dish being served. For a more specific food and Champagne pairing, we recommend that you contact your wine merchant who will be able to advise you.
The Champagne Wine Trails are a series of waymarked itineraries for effortlessly exploring the Champagne vineyard. Five routes and more than 600km of outings are possible: Reims and its region, Épernay and its region, Marne Valley, Côte des Bar and the Coteaux Vitryats.
The main towns and cities in Champagne are Reims, Épernay, Châlons-en-Champagne, Château-Thierry, Sézanne, Troyes and Bar-sur-Aube. Champagne is home to a wealth of heritage sites and outstanding monuments!
Champagne can be visited in any season, even if some are colder than others (bring a warm coat and problem solved! In any case, even in summer, bringing one is recommended to put on in the Champagne cellars). The region is simply teeming with things to see and do for visitors: accommodation, gastronomy, cellar visits, museums, villages, historical monuments, stunning scenery, etc. The vines also look different depending on the season - they are forever changing through the year. Each season is an opportunity to observe the daily attention that Champagne growers pay to the vines through their various tasks. This is what makes each visit to Champagne unique!
A joint trade association is an organisation which groups together all of the professionals associated with a commodity, primarily raw material producers and processors and marketers of a product.
The Champagne Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) is a national designation protecting the Champagne name, its production and winemaking process, particularly by safeguarding a specific geographical area. It also guarantees compliance with strictly regulated production rules. The Institut national de l'origine et de la qualité (INAO) upholds the notion of AOC. AOC status requires compliance with a set of rules that form specifications. Recognition of the Champagne AOC dates back to 1936.
The Comité Champagne is the trade association that represents the common interests of Champagne Houses and growers. It is a semi-autonomous public body. It promotes the vines and wines of Champagne through economic, technical and environmental initiatives, continuous quality improvement, organisation of the sector, marketing communications and promotion, as well as protection of the Champagne AOC worldwide.
Established in 1904, the Syndicat Général des Vignerons (SGV) represents Champagne growers and cooperatives. Its remit is as follows: economic organisation of the winegrowing region, business support for vinegrowers and promotion of Champagne wines made within the region and sold under the "Les Champagnes de Vignerons" umbrella brand. The President of the SGV is one of the two Co-Presidents of the Comité Champagne.
The Union des Maisons de Champagne (UMC) brings together the Houses that make wines from grapes bought from growers and sourced from selected crus to make up the blend of their brand (they can also produce their own grapes). The UMC President is one of the Co-Presidents of the Comité Champagne.
The Champagne MOOC is an online training platform where you can learn about Champagne through 4 modules. These modules delve into how Champagne is made, its terroir, its history, the diversity of its wines and the secrets to tasting Champagne.