Buy champagne for your parties
First of all, you should know that there are two categories of sparkling wines:
- sparkling wines ,
- sparkling wines .
In the category of sparkling wines, we find the crémant du Jura or the blanquette de Limoux.
Champagne, a wine recognized all over the world
In most countries, Champagne is synonymous with prestige and celebration. Whether for a wedding , Christmas , a professional celebration or other, all occasions that are a little out of the ordinary are marked by a flute of Champagne. This comes from the fact that this wine comes with a certain exclusivity. Indeed, it is produced only in a specific French area and with a particular grape.
Authorized grape varieties
Only three grape varieties are authorized to produce a champagne . This means that any champagne offered for sale is composed either of one of the three, or of a mix of these three grape varieties. Each of them is traditionally harvested in a particular terroir.
The first is Chardonnay. It is a white grape with white juice which constitutes 30% of the region's grape varieties. These are mainly located on the Côte des Blancs.
Finally, Pinot Meunier (also simply called “Meunier”) is a more rustic black grape variety with white juice. It is reputed to perform better than the other two during difficult years.
Oé offers a selection of delicious sparkling wines.
After the recent redefinition of the geographical area of the “Champagne” appellation, the region is renewing its classification of hillsides, cellars and Champagne houses. This is why the rediscovery of these terroirs is particularly on the agenda.
The appellation area is divided into four main areas, giving well-typed wine profiles.
The Côte des Blancs , south of Épernay, is the land of choice for Chardonnay . It hosts renowned houses around the world, such as Le-Mesnil-sur-Orger, Avize, Choilly, Cramant, and many others. The zone stops at Vertus.
- The Montagne de Reims, located south of Reims and on the edge of Épernay, is particularly favorable to Pinot Noir. The best crus, such as Bouzy and Ambonnay, generally face south and east, which accentuates their character.
- The Vallée de la Marne , which is to the west of Épernay and extends as far as Ile-de-France, is a veritable mosaic of terroirs. There are mainly Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
- Finally, to the south is the department of Aube , considered a less prestigious area. It can nevertheless be interesting to discover the complex aromas, the diversity of characters and the frequent roundness. Due to this weakened reputation, there are great opportunities when it comes to value for money.
Know how to read a label
It is not always easy for amateurs to choose the right bottle of champagne wine .
Indeed, you have to be able to find your way among the different wines, the grape varieties, the estate and all the other information given by the label.
And all the more so since, unlike other great French wines, the mention of the designation of origin is not compulsory.
- Terroirs and the notion of brand
Buying a brand of wine means, for the consumer and future taster, buying a guarantee of consistency in quality and taste. This is the result of the assembly of different wines (containing different grape varieties, terroirs and vintages).
The disadvantage of these brands is the loss of singularity and the erasing of differences between the various appellation areas.
Some winegrowers have, conversely, chosen to seek maximum differentiation and expression of their terroir . They can, for this, use a particular technique of working their soil, choose to avoid exogenous yeasts, or even play on the duration of aging in the cellar.
- The bottler
A first information that you can find on a bottle is the status of the bottler, with its address . The Champagne Wines Interprofessional Committee assigns a code to each brand. This code is preceded by two letters:
- RM for Récoltant Manipulant : This means that the winemaker has bottled his own wine under his own domain name.
- RC for Harvesting Cooperator : The winegrower entrusts his grapes to a cooperative, which will handle them until the second fermentation. The mark is then that of the winemaker.
- NM for Négociant Manipulant : This company buys its grapes from winegrowers to produce its own champagne.
CM for Manipulation Cooperative : The member winegrowers provide the grapes. The cooperative then takes care of the process of making wine from the blend of grapes. The bottles are sold under a common brand or under the name of the cooperative.
- Société de Récoltants: Several producers have come together to sell their wine under a common brand.
- Buyer's brand: The brand does not produce the wine.
The different types of champagne
The label of a champagne can contain a wide variety of mentions. These mentions can have a real impact on the price, which is why it is important to understand them well before buying.
Here are some explanations to help you find it better:
- Brut, Sec or Demi-Sec
Most champagnes are brut. This means that a liter of wine contains less than 15g of residual sugar . The dry wine is slightly sweeter, with a proportion between 15g and 35g. Finally, demi-sec wine is the sweetest of the three options, with over 35g of sugar per litre.
- White of White or White of Black
A champagne called "Blanc de Blanc" was made from Chardonnay (white grapes with white juice) only. This type of sparkling wine is particularly renowned for the finesse of its aromas. Its price is also often higher. Champagne called "Blanc de Noir" is made from black grapes with white juice (Pinot noir or Pinot meunier). It is in principle more robust.
- Rosé champagne
Rosé champagne is obtained by adding local red wine to a classic champagne , or, if it is a Blanc de Noir, by letting the skin of the grape macerate.
- Brut Without Year (or BSA)
This wine is made using different grape varieties, regions and years. This allows the brand to guarantee a certain consistency in the aromas and quality of its champagne. We can then find the signature of the brand in its dosage. You will often find a composition of one third Pinot Noir, one third Pinot Meunier and one third Chardonnay. It is kept in the cellar for 18 months before being put on sale.
- vintage champagne
Unlike the Brut sans Année, the Millésimé is created exclusively from grapes drained during the same year. However, he can combine regions and grape varieties. The bottles that you will find on sale have spent a minimum of three years in the cellar.
The taste of vintage wines can vary greatly from year to year, due to climatic conditions .
- Grand Cru and Premier Cru
Grand Cru champagne is produced exclusively from harvests from 100% classified communes . These areas are reputed to have the best qualities of terroirs. The quality level of the wine is then very high, but so is the price. On the same principle, Premier Cru champagne only uses grapes from communes classified at more than 90%.
Brut Réservé, Grande Réserve, Brut Premier or Cuvée Spéciale
These mentions having no regulatory meaning, they only follow a commercial approach of the different champagne houses, to differentiate their products.
The methods used for the production of sparkling wine
Several methods are used to produce sparkling wine . They all lead to the same result, which is the prize de mousse .
- The Champagne/traditional method
After the still wine has been produced, sugar and liqueur de liqueur are added to it. The yeasts present will ferment the sugar in the bottle. The CO2 produced during this second fermentation is compressed in a metal capsule. Suffocated, it spills its gas into the wine. This gas will therefore be responsible for the effervescence of the wine when it is opened.
After several months, the bottles are tilted on desks between 30° and 40°. Constantly, they are stirred by a person or a machine: this is riddling.
- The artisanal method
It consists of bottling the wine prematurely without the alcoholic fermentation of the grape must having been completed. This is the most common and oldest method in the world. The natural sugars and yeasts added, the alcoholic fermentation will be able to be completed and it is during this phase that the co2 released will cause the effervescence of the wine.
- The closed tank method
Here, the addition of dietary carbon dioxide is allowed because of the production of the foam in a pressure vessel.
Discover our informative articles, and other good advice, to learn more about the different types of wine.
To do this, do not hesitate to browse the Oé website.