The Vintner Out & About
Producing Champagne is tricky...
Producing Champagne is tricky – the challenging climate and problems of frost mean winemakers depend on blending to make up for naturally low sugar and very high acidity levels. Parcels from different vineyards, varieties and villages are blended to give character and structure, with older reserve wines used to smooth out any vintage variation and add complexity. The costly production methods and precision of wine making equates to premium pricing.
Tom and the team at Beaumont des Crayères & the vineyard team trying to keep the grapes from freezing
While Champagne boasts some of the strongest brands in the entire wine category, there is a growing trend for independent, smaller and artisanal growers that offer incredible value. The aim of growers, especially with a non-vintage, is to make a better wine each year, rather than a consistent house style.
A whistle stop visit to Champagne Bollinger where Lily Bollinger always insisted to ride around Champagne.
A grower Champagne represents a specific piece of land and the individual personality of the grower. These producers are dedicated to making great wines, but rarely have the marketing budget or free time to promote themselves. Our aim is to champion such growers and provide a voice for them in the market place to help them get the recognition they deserve. Ultimately these are unique wines with their own personality made by real people with great stories to tell.
Visiting our classic grower producer, André Clouet where Jean Francois Clouet explained his passion for detail
Champagne Styles Explained
Made exclusively from grapes grown in a single year, this is produced only in the best years, and is released at about six years of age.
Most of the Champagne produced today is Non-Vintage, comprising the blended product of grapes from multiple vintages. Typically grapes from a single-year vintage will form the base of the blend, ranging from 15 percent to up to 40 percent. Try our Champagne Beaumont des Crayrères.
Typically light in colour, rosé Champagne is produced either by leaving the clear juice of black grapes to macerate on its skins for a brief time (known as saigneé), or by adding a small amount of Pinot Noir red wine to the sparkling wine cuvée. The saigneé method is more elaborate and costly, requiring highly-skilled winemaking, hence only a few houses still use it – among them Laurent Perrier and Louis Roederer. Try André Clouet's rosé Champagne.
Luxury (Prestige) Cuvée
Top of the range, this is vintage-dated. Famous examples include Louis Roederer's Cristal, Laurent-Perrier's Grand Siècle, Moët & Chandon's Dom Pérignon, Duval-Leroy's Cuvée Femme and Pol Roger's Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill.
Demi-Sec (Rich) Champagne
Demi-Sec or Rich is a medium-dry to medium-sweet style which occupies the other end of the spectrum from the standard dry "Brut" style. Brut Natural or Brut Zéro contains less than three grams of sugar per litre, Extra Brut has less than six grams of sugar per litre, and Brut less than 12 grams of sugar per litre.
Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Blanc de Blancs denotes a Champagne made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes. Blanc de Noirs Champagne Blanc de Noir Champagnes are made exclusively from black grapes, Pinot Noir (typically) and Pinot Meunier grapes. Ruinart's Blanc de Blanc is a great example.