Most of the Champagne appellation lies on slopes, where the vines send their roots into the chalky hillside, providing ideal conditions of drainage and humidity. The quality of the wines vary from year to year due to the harsh and variable climate. As a result, champagne is traditionally a blend from different villages and vintages. The whole vineyard is planted with three grape varieties - pinot noir which provides structure, pinot meunier and chardonnay which add richness and fruitiness. Champagne producers follow strict regimes in relation to sourcing grapes, pressing, fermentation and blending.
The characteristic bubbles form by adding sugar and yeast to the white wine in the bottle which causes a secondary fermentation, contact with the resulting sediment, which is later removed, gives the champagne its characteristic flavours of toast and biscuits. The sweetness of the champagne is determined by the ripeness of the grapes and the amount of sugar added after the second fermentation. From dry to sweet - extra brut, brut, extra dry, sec, demi-sec and doux are the terms used to describe the sweetness of the wine.
In addition to non-vintage champagne, vintage champagne is made from the produce of three or four of the better years in every decade - blanc de blancs from the chardonnay grape, blanc de noirs from black grapes and rose champagne by adding a small proportion of red wine or occasionally letting the juice remain in contact with the skin of the grapes during fermentation. All the major firms now produce a luxury or prestige cuvee, for example, Roederer's - Cristal and Moet & Chandon's - Dom Perignon.
Note: Prices shown exclude VAT
Minimum order £150.00 (including VAT, excluding delivery)