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How To Choose Your Champagne

When it comes to this bubbly libation, there are many styles to choose from. Here’s a quick guide to get you uncorking the bottle that’s right for you.

Champagne is a wine created at the end of the 17th century whose fermentation process of grape juice allows the wine to sparkling.
The quality of the champagne is measured by the cru, the grape variety and the vintage.

Cru

It’s the place where the vine grows. The place of production of champagne is strictly defined by the law of 22 July 1927: only 5 departments can produce champagne: Marne, Aube, Haute-Marne, Aisne and Seine-et-Marne.

This large terrain, coupled with ample sun exposure and distinctive soils, is the ideal environment for creating considerable differences in the wines produced and the types of grapes harvested.

So, within these popular places, there are more than 300 individual wines, often made up of a single plot, that producers can individually showcase on their bottles as:

  • Non Vintage Champagne Brut
  • Vintage Champagne: Made exclusively of grapes from the same year
  • Grand Cru: Champagne from the only localities classified at 100%, those with the best terroirs
  • Premier Cru: It’s synonymous with “First Growth”. Champagne from towns with a classification between 90 and 99%.
  • Cuvée spéciale, Brut Réservé, Brut Premier, Grande Réserve: These terms have no regulatory meaning. They reflect a commercial approach of the wineries to classify their wines
  • Blanc De Blancs: Champagne made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes (white grapes with white juice). The taste is usually finer and the price higher
  • Blanc De Noirs: White Champagne, more structured, made from black grapes with white juice (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier)
  • Champagne Rosé
  • Brut, Sec (Dry) or Demi-Dec (Half-Dry): Almost all champagnes are Brut. To deserve this appellation, they must not contain more than 15 g of sugar (preferably cane or old wine) per litre. This is all about the alcohol content of the Champagne which will determine its degree of sweetness.

Choose Your Grape Variety

It’s the variety of grapes from which the wine is made. Seven grape varieties are authorized by the regulations: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Arbane, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris.

  • Pinot noir: Black grape variety, it gives a white juice and brings body and power to the champagne
  • Pinot Meunier: Black grape variety, softer and rounder, it gives unctuousness and suppleness
  • Chardonnay: White grape variety, all the floral and subtle notes come from this white grape.

For aromas of rose, honey and vine peach, it’s recommended to opt for a champagne rosé and some demi-sec (half-dry).

Vintage Or Not Vintage?

This refers to the harvest year of the grapes. Contrary to most wines, Champagnes are generally marketed without any mention of their vintage: 80% of shipments are made up of non-vintage brut, the Champagne region’s standard bearer. Traditionally, production of these fine bubbles strives for a very consistent and recognizable taste.

While some artisanal houses produce some vintage cuvées each year, vintage Champagne is only produced in years when the quality is exceptional. A vintage Champagne must be entirely composed of grapes grown that year and must be aged at least three years, as opposed to the 15-month minimum required for non-vintage.

Do You Prefer Sweet Champagnes Or Not?

MentionsSugar content
Brut natureno sugar added and residual sugar content less than 3g/l
Extra-brutbetween 0 and 6 g/l
Brutless than 12 g/l
Extra sec (Extra Dry)from 12 to 17 g/l
Sec (Dry)from 17 to 32 g/l
Demi-sec (Half-Dry) from 32 to 50 g/l
Doux (Sweet)more than 50 g/l

Our Champagne Selection

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