As far back as 17th century Champagne appeared as a fault, believed to be invented accidentlly by a French Benedictine monk.
Today, most Champagnes are produced non-vintage from a blend of grapes over the years. A single vintage Champagne is labelled with the exceptional year, and a lot more expensive.
Champagne is a legally protected region, governed by the French Appellation d' Origine Controlee, which only permits three classic grapes; Pinot Noir, Pinot Munier (black grape) and Chardonnay (white grape). Only Champagne produced in France is legally known as Champagne. Champagne produced anywhere else, is only permitted to use sparkling wine on its bottle label.
The variety of Champagne to select from;
- Classic Champagne: a blend of all three grapes, and most commonly made by all Champagne houses
- Champagne Rose: a blend of all three grapes, where the pink color is leached out from Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Munier grape skins
- Blanc de Blanc Champagne: meaning white from white in French is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes only
- Blanc de Noirs Champagne: meaning white from black in French is made from either Pinot Noir or Pinot Munier grapes; or a combination of the both
Just before corking the Champagne bottle, the style is determined by its residual sugar (RS). Its adjusted, and described on the bottle label as;
- Brut Nature or Brut Zero: very dry, less than 0.3 grams/liter of RS
- Extra Brut: classified as dry, 0-6 grams/liter of RS
- Brut: 0-12 grams/liter of RS, which is most common
- Extra- Dry: with hint of sweetness, about 12-17 grams/liter of RS
- Dry: about 17-32 grams of RS
- Demi-Sec: with noticeable amount of sugar, 32-50 grams/liter of RS (best enjoyed with desserts)
- Doux: extremely sweet, 50+ grams/liter RS
Champagne is produced from two fermentation, the first producing the juice, and the second the bubbles. A minimum of 1.5 to 3 years is required to completely develop a flavorful bottle of non-vintage Champagne. The longer the Champagne in kept on its lees in the cellar (4-8 years), the higher the price and the better the quality of the cuvee as in a vintage Champagne .
A light body Champagne will appear zesty, crisp of green apples, clean lemon-lime flavors, with hints of flint and mineral. Champagnes include; Nicolas Feuillatte, Pommery, Tattinger.
Medium body Chamapagne, with yeasty-biscuity flavors on its mousse, creamy, with roundness on the palate. Champagnes include; Pol Rogers, Moet & Chandon, Piper Heidseck.
And full body Champagne has rich creamy mousse, buttery-oily texture of nuts-almonds, yet fresh, clean, with rich bsiscuity long finish. Champagnes include; Krug, Bollinger, Veuve Clicquot.
Champagne, a perfect accompaniment to any celebration, the bubbles are not an imagination. The bubbles disolve into the blood-stream, giving the 'high'. Women of less body mass water, tend to get affected quicker since the bubbles dissolve faster!
Remember to chill out the Champagne. Happy New Year 2014!
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Manjit Tabitha is a certified Wine & Spirits Educator with AIWS, Awards in Wines & Spirits, from WSET UK. She returned from London to Malaysia to spread the joy of wines, with educational and wine events. She is currently perusing her Level 5 Honors in Wines of Asia, and intends to continue with the Masters of Wine, a rigorous paper at the highest wine level.