Champagne is sparkling wine made from grapes grown within the region designated by the Appellation Controlee system in France as being Champagne.
Non-vintage Champagnes are often referred to as the house style - a non-vintage Champagne is made year in and year out from a blend of many vintages. The aim of the blending process is to give a consistent style. The blend as well as being from wines of many vintages can be a blend of pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay, in proportions that suit that Champagne producer’s style. This means that each time you purchase a non-vintage style of Champagne you can be confident in the style that you will be drinking.
Vintage Champagne can only be made from grapes grown in a specific year. Vintage Champagne can be a blend of the three varieties, pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay. Unlike most non-vintage Champagne, vintage Champagne ages very well and benefits from time in the cellar. Vintage Champagnes are unique and very special; they give you a little picture of that year, that vineyard and the skill of the producer neatly packed into a bottle.
Blanc de blanc, meaning ‘white of white’, are Champagnes only made from white grapes, generally chardonnay. This style can be produced as a non-vintage or as a vintage style. Typically, this style of Champagne is a lot leaner and shows more lemon, lime, and chalk characters. With age, vintage blanc de blanc is magnificent.
Blanc de noirs, meaning ‘white of black’, are a white wine made from black grapes, generally pinot noir and pinot meunier. It is an exceptionally rich style of Champagne.
Champagne starts its life as a still wine, but once in the bottle
a secondary fermentation takes place and the sediment is removed from the bottle; the neck is frozen, the cap removed, and the sediment now frozen comes out. The bottle is then topped up with dosage. This adds the desired level of sweetness to the Champagne - the amount in each wine is different from house to house.
Zero Dosage Champagnes are ones where no dosage is added; these are bone dry examples, often described as the salad without the dressing, allowing you to perhaps see all the faults that the dosage covers.
Prestige Cuvee are the top production of the house and are the very best from each Champagne producer.
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