How Champagne is made
Champagne is known for its delicate bubbles and complex, nuanced flavour, which is achieved through a labour-intensive and meticulous process.
- The Harvest/La Vendage: Champagne grapes are harvested by hand when they are ripe and at their peak of flavour.
- Pressing: The grapes are gently pressed to extract their juice, which is then clarified and fermented. In Champagne, the grape are traditionally crushed in whole clusters with their stems.
- Fermentation: The juice is fermented in barrels or tanks with yeast. This process converts the sugars in the juice into alcohol. After this step, we have a still white wine.
- Blending/Mélange: After fermentation, the wine is blended with other grape varieties, and with wines from previous years or wines to create the desired flavour profile or cuvée. In Champagne, this blending across vintages is quite common and helps achieve a consistency. In good years, where there was a good harvest, you‘ll see a vintage Champagne. They’ll have the year on the bottle and will often command higher prices.
- Secondary fermentation: The wine is bottled along with a small amount of yeast and sugar, which initiates a second fermentation process. This process creates the characteristic bubbles in champagne, but it’s the practically the same as making beer, but don’t let the Champenoise hear you say that 😀
- Aging: The bottles are aged for a minimum of 15 months, during which time the wine develops both its flavour and complexity.
- Riddling: The bottles are placed, inverted, in racks called pupitres and are turned a small amount each day to encourage movement the sediment towards the neck of the bottle.
- Disgorging: The neck of the bottle is frozen and the sediment is removed, leaving a clear wine.
- Dosage: A small amount of sugar and wine is added to the bottle to balance the acidity and create the desired sweetness.
- Corking and labeling: The bottles are corked, labeled, and packaged for distribution.
Why not browse our Champagne selection. You’ll find some great bottles along with Crémant, Cava, and Prosecco.