Debbie Gioquindo : Champagne and Sparkling Wine Series Week 1Dec 1st, 2011 | By Debbie Gioquindo | Category: Lifestyle
Just four weeks left until New Years Eve, I thought I would talk for a while about Champagne and Sparkling Wine found throughout the world. You may think they are the same, but they are different and have different names is different regions of the world. We’ll begin this week with Champagne.
Champagne comes from, is produced in the Champagne region of France. Ninety per cent of Champagne’s vineyards are owned by 19,000 small grape growers and the exports are controlled by the merchant companies. Approximately 2,000 of the grape growers make and sell their Champagne and 7% of the growers join cooperatives where they pool their resources. Merchant houses commercialize the rest and are responsible for the exports. The ten largest Champagne houses account for over half of the regions sales and own a small vineyards. Many of them source the grapes from other growers throughout the region.
There are three major zones that have very different terroir attributes that compromise the Champagne region of France and a few other smaller zones.
Montagne de Reims is a high elevation area and 56% of the vineyards are planted with Pinot Noir. Many of the vineyards here are angled directly to the sun so the grapes grow well and aren’t prone to spring frosts. 28% is planted with Chardonnay and 16% with Pinot Meunier.
The Cote des Blancs area is very prevalent with limestone chalk which is great for Chardonnay as 96% of the vineyards here grow it. The Chardonnay from this region provides much of the backbone and aging potential for the Champagne blends.
Vallee de la Marne is dominated by Pinot Meunier and accounts for 63% of the vineyards in the region. There rest is planted with 27% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay. Pinot Meunier is a variety that has a shorter growing season. It buds later than most and ripens early so it is able to withstand areas that are prone to frost.
The Cotes des Bar region has almost 14,000 acres planted and is an important source for Pinot Noir. However, where you find a chalky area, you will find it planted with Chardonnay as Chardonnay thrives in the chalky soil.
Champagne classifies its 319 villages into a land rating system know as the “ladder of growths.” Seventeen villages are classified as Grand Cru and 44 are Premier Cru. The classification is what drives the grape prices.
Champagne is produced with various levels of sweetness and this sweetness is added in the dosage. It is important that you understand these levels so you know what you enjoy. Brut nature is Champagne that has had no sugar added. Extra Brut is very dry and has less than 6 grams per liter of sugar. Brut is considered dry and has less than 12 grams per liter of sugar. Extra Dry is an off-dry and has 12-17 grams per liter of sugar. Sec is slightly sweet and will have between 17 and 32 grams per liter of sugar, Demi-Sec is a sweet Champagne with 32-50 grams per liter of sugar. For very sweet Champagne you will look for Doux as it has 50 grams or more per liter of sugar.
Next week I will discuss the process of making Champagne in the classic methode champenoise.
Debbie Gioquindo is a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) and a Emerging Media Marketing Consultant who helps people learn about wine and marketing their business by incorporating social media into their traditional marketing mix. All it takes is one post or tweet. Debbie found that out when she answered a tweet on April 26, 2011 about making a wine, and now she is partners in and has successfully launched Happy Bitch Wines . Debbie’s blog “Hudson Valley Wine Goddess” is where you can find her daily posts about wine, local, regional and word vintages, wine and food pairings, wine events and more. Debbie will also speak to your group or organization about social media as well as wine education and tasting classes and seminars. To learn more about Debbie visit www.hudsonvalleywinegoddess.com or email HV Wine Goddess. Debbie appears every Thursday on Hudson Valley Insider