We’ve all celebrated something with a glass of champagne in hand, but do you know when the history of Champagne dates back and that party tradition associated with it? This sparkling wine made from Pinot Noir N, Meunier N and Chardonnay B grapes enjoys an appellation recognized around the world , very protected by the Interprofessional Committee of Champagne wine. Let’s find out together its origins, its prestigious houses and its chalk cellars.
History of Champagne: Back to the roots
The first still Champagne wines appeared in the 7th century mainly through ecclesiastical viticulture. It is then a non-negligible source of income for monasteries like that of Hautvillers or even the abbey of Saint-Pierre-aux-Monts, which grew numerous vines. The monks develop a wine more and more elaborated over the centuries throughout the feudal era.
Did you know that champagne could never have seen the light of day? In fact, during the 17th century, gray wines from the Champagne region increasingly attracted the royal courts of England and France. The English invent the glass bottle of wine and the cork stopper in the middle of the century. According to the history of champagne, the wine at the time becomes naturally sparkling once bottled due to the lack of alcohol, which is not at all to the taste of French winegrowers because he blows up bottles . Fortunately, the English are fond of it , and continue to order barrels from Champagne.
In 1670, a monk experimented with blending different grape varieties and vintages on sparkling Champagne wines in its Hautvillers abbey. This monk is Dom Pérignon , which will give its name to the famous Champagne house . It also strengthens bottles and corks. The history of sparkling champagne says that it has therefore been sold in special bottles since 1695. 34 years later, the first trading house would be founded by Mr. Ruinart at Reims.
What is a good champagne?
It’s a sparkling wine from a protected designation of origin . This designation is obtained according to criteria of delimitation geographic grape varieties used as well as returns . To meet the conditions imposed before calling your wine “champagne”, the winemaker must also follow the Champagne method of foaming wine . In order to “personalize” their champagne, winegrowers still have the right to add a dosage liqueur before bottling their vintage. The quantity of liquor (or added sugar) will define what you see on the labels of bottles used to decline the champagnes:
- Brut nature: no added sugar;
- Extra Dry ;
- Sweet (over 50g / L).
We have therefore classified them from the least sweet to the most sweet. There are also rosé and vintage champagnes (a blend of different vintages) or even single-grape varieties such as Blancs de blancs or Blancs de Noirs. In 2019, the Pol Roger brand was ranked best champagne house of the year, ahead of Krug, Louis Roederer or Dom Perignon, Taittinger and Ruinart. The history of Champagne is also about the houses which represent it and which sometimes enter into competition. But always to defend the values of this precious nectar.
How to taste champagne?
Before tasting, avoid eating too spicy or too sweet during the day. Champagne must be served between 8 and 10 ° C in a fairly fine glass flute in order to retain the bubbles and better concentrate the aromas.
The 3 tasting stages will be sight, smell, and finally taste . Our partner winegrowers will explain to you all the codes and vocabulary specific to the expression of your senses during an oenological workshop or a champagne tasting as well as essential assessment techniques.
To accompany this tasting as an aperitif, we remember that the slightly sweet champagne will be more appreciated with a dish that is also not very sweet . A plain or extra-brut brut champagne will be perfect with seafood and fish-based starters. If you prefer cheese, a vintage brut will be ideal if the cheese is not too strong in taste. With sweet (desserts, fruits, chocolate) we can opt for tasting a dry, semi-dry or sweet champagne.
Wine tourism in Champagne
For the curious and lovers of fine bubbles , Winalist opens the doors of the greatest Champagne Houses to you . Visit the chalk cellars from Reims , taste the Moët & Chandon, Taittinger or Mumm vintages, or enjoy a tasting picnic in the heart of the Champagne Vollereaux vineyards .
With just a few clicks, you book your wine tourism experience , and access the best of wine tourism in Champagne.