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From Vine to wine

Champagne is an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) wine. The appellation dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. This is actually a little-known fact because Champagne is the only AOC product which is allowed to omit the letters “AOC” on the label. 

To be awarded a Champagne appellation, a number of conditions have to be met. The wine must: 

  •          be made from grapes grown within a distinct area which totals 34,000 hectares,
  •          be from three authorised varieties – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier,
  •          come from vines pruned exclusively using the “Chablis”, “Cordon “, “Guyot” or “Marne Valley” methods,
  •          come from vines with yields not exceeding 50 to 60 hectolitres/hectare,
  •          come from a must with a ratio of 1,600 kg of grapes per 1,000 litres,
  •          be produced according to the unique method which makes its character,
  •          be put on the market after a minimum resting period of 15 months after bottling, three years after harvest for vintage wines.

Moreover, since 1978, the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (Interprofessional Champagne Wine Committee) has prohibited the use of mechanical devices for grape picking, in order to safeguard the quality of the grapes to be pressed. Mechanical harvesting methods can result in a darkening of the juice from dark varieties (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier).

Wine making

Champagne is the result of a long creation process, which enables us to achieve a harmony which is unique to each estate and each cuvée.

This process, specific to the world of winemaking, starts with the harvesting of grapes by hand. After harvest, the grapes are delicately pressed in a way that prevents the skin of black grapes from darkening the juice. Grape juice from different varieties undergoes an initial, alcoholic fermentation followed by a second malolactic fermentation after which the wines are clarified before being assembled.

The assemblage enables us to create a unique style for each cuvee through the combination of wines from the current year with wines from the previous year from different grape varieties.

The assemblage enables us to create a unique style for each cuvee through the combination of wines from the current year with wines from the previous year from different grape varieties.

Once the blending is stabilised, it is bottled and a new fermentation process is triggered. It is during this in-bottle fermentation that the characteristic champagne bubbles are formed.

In a dark place, bottles are then housed in cellars for the length of time required to mature them perfectly. This can range from 3 to almost 8 years for our vintages.

Bottles are then riddled, or turned. In the past, bottles were turned manually, once a day for two months. Riddling has the effect of loosening the lees deposited on the inside walls of the bottle and pushing it towards the bottle neck. Nowadays, riddling is carried out mechanically on gyropalettes, for one week non-stop.

When the date for marketing the bottles comes close, they undergo the final operation in the long elaboration process: disgorgement. This eliminates the residue created in the final fermentation. After disgorgement, the wine is completed with a dosage – the addition of a smaller or larger amount of sugar, adding a final touch to the quality of our wines (brut or demi-sec).

At the end of this process lasting several years, our wines are at last ready to express their palette of aromas, all they need now is you to share this with them…

Environnement

Mindful of the heritage that nature has left us over thousands of years, we changed our growing methods many years ago and took the path of sustainable winegrowing.

Grass as a cover crop

To preserve soil quality, we have sown grass as a cover crop between rows in some vineyards. This method reduces the need for weed killer to a minimum and thus protects the water table. Wherever soil is not adapted to sowing grass, we spread deciduous and evergreen bark over the area. This technique is mainly used in areas with sandy soil poor in nutrients. It enables us to bring added organic material while limiting soil erosion.

Sexual confusion

For several years we have been using this biotechnical process to fight grape pests. Sexual confusion disturbs the mating phase between male and female moths using the emission of synthetic pheromones. These reproduce the natural substance that females produce to attract males. When the air is saturated with these pheromones, males cannot find females and the possibilities of mating and egg-laying are limited and therefore so is the need for insecticide. In this way, we protect not only the wildlife around the vineyards but also our teams who work on the vines.

Our labels

It is a voluntary approach which is based on the daily commitment of Champagne winegrowers around 3 axes of action:

  • Biodiversity
  • Carbon footprint
  • Water usage

More than 120 points are covered by the Sustainable Viticulture in Champagne standard, set up by the Champagne Committee and recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture since May 2015.

The certification, issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, makes it possible to certify that the elements of biodiversity (hedges, grass strips, trees, flowers, insects, etc.) are very widely present on the vineyard and that the pressure of practices agricultural products on the environment (air, climate, water, soil, biodiversity, landscapes) is reduced to a minimum.

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Champagne making is a long process
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