Champagne only comes from Champagne, France
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From Vine to wine




Pressing centres are very strictly regulated, in line with more than 20 approval criteria that were introduced in 1987. These cover pressing and racking capacity; daily press loads; type of press used; pressing and sulphuring; and hygiene standards.

Pressoir traditionnel de Champagne

From picking to pressing

On arrival at the pressing centre, each delivery of grapes is weighed and recorded. Every 4,000kg ‘marc’ (traditional unit of measurement for a press-load of grapes) is numbered and recorded in the ‘carnet de pressoir’ (pressing logbook), noting details of grape variety, cru and destination (whether to be retained by the winegrower or sold to a Champagne House). The grapes are also tested for compliance with the minimum alcohol content by volume that is specified for the vintage in question.

Le pressage du raisin noir

The production of white wine from predominantly black-skinned grapes (two thirds of the yield) is defined by five dominant principles:

  • Pressing immediately after picking
  • Whole-cluster pressing
  • A gentle, gradual increase in pressure
  • Low juice extraction
  • Separating the juice into fractions

Juice extraction split into the «cuvée» and the «taille»

Juice extraction is strictly limited to 25.5 hectolitres per 4,000kg marc, separating the first pressing juice (the cuvée, representing 20.5hl) from the second (the taille, representing 5hl). Each has quite specific characteristics. The cuvée is the purest juice of the pulp, rich in sugar and acid (tartaric and malic). This produces wines with great finesse, subtle aromas, a refreshing palate and good aging potential. The taille is also rich in sugar, but acid content is lower while mineral content (especially potassium salts) and pigment concentrations are higher. Taille musts produce intensely aromatic wines – fruitier in youth than those made from the cuvee but less age-worthy.

Champagne presses

Champagne presses range in capacity from 2,000 to 12,000 kilos of whole grapes.  Manually operated, vertical wine presses were standard throughout the region until the late 1980s, and still account for some 28% of plant. The mechanization of the ‘retrousse’ (scooping the edges of the press cake back into the middle after each pressing) then led to the increasing use of horizontal presses with a lateral membrane, angled pressing plates and a rotating press pan. Horizontal presses these days are computer-controlled, with a multi-function operating system.

Preserving the identity of each cru

On arrival at the pressing centre, the date and time the grapes were picked are recorded, as is the vineyard of origin (cru). Each batch is then pressed separately, partly for traceability purposes but also to ensure a homogeneous press load, according to grape variety, vineyard plot or group of similar plots.

Rosé Champagne

Rosé Champagne is made by maceration: leaving destalked black skinned grapes to macerate in a tank prior to pressing until the desired colour is achieved (24-72 hours). .

Approved pressing centres

The approval procedures for pressing centres are part of AOC regulations, in line with quality control requirements covering a broad spectrum of Champagne production processes. 

The key approval criteria for pressing are as follows:

  • Pressing in covered premises
  • Maximum pressing capacity
  • Maximum allowable number of press loads per day
  • Height and size of the grape press itself
  • Operator-controlled juice extraction based on observable rate of flow

  • Specialised weighing equipment
  • Covered storage facilities
  • Limited height of press cage to limit the height from which the grapes are loaded
  • Fractionation: separating the different press fractions

Pressing as part of the commitment to sustainable viticultur

Cage washing is compulsory after each press load. As part of the commitment to sustainable viticulture, solid residues that remain after pressing (the ‘aignes’) are sent for distillation, and winery waste water (used for cleaning in the course of pressing) is recycled and treated so as to avoid any risk of environmental pollution.

See the pressing in video


Champagne MOOC

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