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Champagne: recipe of an exceptional product !

Champagne is not an effervescent like the others. You should know that champagne can only come from our small French region because it is protected by a regional AOC. Only 320 villages are allowed to produce champagne.
The winemakers then follow the Champagne method, a making process consisting of 9 major steps, which differentiates champagne from cavas or processos.
Its manufacture is therefore more complex, takes more time and the different rules that govern and regulate the champagne market impact the price and quality of this effervescent known worldwide.
Champagne method : from grapes to champagne
Follow the guide and discover the 9 steps of the Champagne method!
The harvest usually takes place in September when the grapes reach the perfect sugar content, balanced with good acidity. The grapes are always picked by hand and brought directly to the press centre after picking. When the batch of grapes arrives at the press centre, it is weighed and recorded.
The grapes are then loaded into the press separately, by grape variety, by village and by plot. In champagne, we obtain white juice of black grapes thanks to our slow pressing technique (up to 4 hours): the skins open gently to release their juice without coloring it.
The juice obtained is "fractionated":
- The cuvée: lighter and purer juice: corresponds to the first juice that flows when the grapes are pressed.
- Size: it is the less clear juice that is obtained at the end of the pressing: there are sometimes still residues of reason skin, more impurities, deposits in it. It is less acidic, less sweet and more bitter.
- The rebêche that corresponds to the waste obtained from the bunches: the skins, remnants of bunches and juices that are recovered. In Champagne, nothing is lost, this rebèche will be used in the production of different distilled products such as Ratafia.
After the juice is extracted, the fermentation can begin in stainless steel vats (can also be made in oak barrels or barrels) by adding yeast. Those used were most often high in laboratories in Champagne, but some use the natural yeasts of the grapes. They will consume the sugar of the fruit which converts it into alcohol (10°) and causes the creation of CO2. The tank being open, the gas escapes, and at this stage we obtain a "quiet wine" without bubbles.
Once the wines are fermented, the cellar manager gathers his team to create the cuvées. In champagne, we can blend the 3 grape varieties (Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Meunier) as well as the different years of harvest to create a balanced product. They they taste the juices and establish the “recipe” for each cuvée.
The blending is thus a key step, during which the identity and style desired by the producer or champagne house is created.
The wine is then bottled with a mixture of yeast and sugar to start the second fermentation. The bottles rest horizontally in the cellar, sealed with a metal capsule. The yeasts will consume the sugar again and produce CO2 which will remain trapped inside the bottle thanks to the hermetic closure of the bottle: this is the Champagnisation!
The bottles will then rest in cellars during aging which will allow them to develop the specific aromas of the wine thanks to the contact with the lees (dead yeasts following the consumption of all the sugar). The aging lasts at least 15 months for a not vintage and at least 3 years for a vintage (the vintage corresponds to a champagne that is produced only with the grapes of a given year, there is no mixture with the reserve wine).
At the end of the ageing process, the lees must be eliminated, the ideal is not to have to drink and eat in the glasses! 
The cylinders then have to be stirred: they slowly rotate from a horizontal position to a vertical position on a stirring table or in a gyropalette. The idea is to slide the lees into the neck of the bottle so that it can be expelled afterwards. It takes about 1 month on a stirring table and 1 week with the gyropalette.
Disgorging can be done in 2 ways:
- On the one hand, using the traditional method, that is to say by hand. We slide the bubble inside the bottle, between the deposit and Champagne, and the bottle is open to let the deposit escape. It is a delicate job that requires dexterity.
- On the other hand, using the modern way, that is, the neck of the bottle is immersed in a solution at -25°C. The deposits are then trapped in an ice cube, the bottle is opened and the deposit is thus expelled thanks to pressure.
The bottle, now stripped of its lees, is almost ready for sale. It is still necessary to proceed with the dosage: a shipping liqueur (sugar + wine) is added to the champagne. Producers can choose the balance of flavours they want by adjusting the sugar content:
  • Brut Nature ou brut zéro : 0 sucre ajouté
  • Extra Brut : 0 - 6 g sucre /L 
  • Brut : entre 0 - 12 g sucre /L 
  • Extra dry : 12 - 17 g sucre /L 
  • Sec : 17 - 32 g sucre /L
  • Demi Sec : 32 - 50 g sucre /L 
  • Doux : +50 g sucre /L

The champagne is now ready, we can add the cork, the muzzle, the label and then put it on sale. All you have to do is taste it, cheers ! 

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