Understanding a label
There’s a wide variety of Champagne wines. It isn’t always easy to find your way around! A quick overview of a few notions that will help you better understand the wine that’s in the bottle.
it all depends on how much dosage liqueur (a mixture of sugar and wine) is added to the Champagne at the final stage of its elaboration. Although 90% of Champagnes are "Brut", there are a number of sweeter Champagnes.
Here’s how Champagnes are classified depending on sugar levels:
- Extra brut: between 0 and 6 grams of sugar per litre;
- Brut: less than 12 grams of sugar per litre;
- Extra dry: between 12 and 17 grams of sugar per litre;
- Sec: between 17 and 32 grams of sugar per litre;
- Demi-sec: between 32 and 50 grams of sugar per litre;
- Doux: more than 50 grams of sugar per litre.
when they are mentioned, the grape varieties in the blend provide indications of the Champagne’s profile. As regards chardonnay, we’d be looking for liveliness, minerality and notes of citrus fruits and white flowers. With pinot noir, it would be body, structure, red fruits and such flowers as violets and roses. As for meunier, it provides fruity notes, roundness, and notes of apples, pears and yellow fruits.
The designation Blanc de Blancs indicates that the Champagne is only made from white grape varieties, mainly Chardonnay, while a Blanc de Noirs is made from red grape varieties alone, Pinot Noir and/or Meunier.
a Champagne can be vintage or otherwise. When a harvest is truly outstanding, the winemaker can decide to create a cuvée from that year’s grapes alone.
Some iconic names are references in themselves. Through the choices they make in their vineyard and wine cellar, each producer develops their own recognisable style, their signature, to be found in each bottle.
Some labels and notices may indicate how the Champagne was made: High Environmental Value, Organic, etc.