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Overview of Champagne

Overview of Champagne


Champagne is a sparkling wine specifically produced by the grapes grown in the region Champagne in France. The name is protected by law. Sparkling wines from other regions and countries are not allowed to use it. One distinctive feature of Champagne is it uses second fermentation of the wine to produce bubbles. The main grapes of Champagne are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Other grape varieties such as Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Petit Meslier and Arbane are also legal in Champagne production but they are only planted in small quantity. A few centuries ago, winemakers used a wider range of grapes to make Champagne and now only a handful of them use grapes other than the primary grapes.

香檳是由法國香檳地區種植的葡萄所釀製的氣泡酒,該名稱受嚴謹的法律保護,其他地區和國家的起泡酒不得使用。香檳的一個顯著特點是它使用瓶內二次發酵來產生氣泡,主要葡萄是Pinot Noi、Pinot Meunie和Chardonnay。其他葡萄品種,如Pinot Blanc、Pinot Gris、Petit Meslier和Arbane在生產香檳過程中也是合法的,但是它們只是以極少數量種植。幾個世紀以前,釀酒師使用更廣泛的葡萄來釀造香檳,現在則只有少數釀酒師使用了主要葡萄以外的葡萄來釀造香檳。

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Production Method


The traditional method, or sometimes called méthode champenoise, is the only way to produce Champagne. The harvested grapes are fermented same as still wines. Yeasts turn natural sugar in grapes to alcohol and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is liberated and the base wine is produced. Then second fermentation is carried out inside the bottle. For non-vintage (NV) Champagne, different vintages of base wine are mixed, fermented and bottled. A small amount of sugar, called the liqueur de tirage, is also added to the blended wine. Instead of wooden cork, the bottle is sealed with a cap. The carbon dioxide released during the second fermentation is trapped inside the bottle and dissolves in the wine. Such a way to produce bubbles is believed to be more expensive and time-consuming yet the best. NV Champagne must be aged on lees in cellar for at least 15 months under the Appellation d'origine contrôlée. Some Champagne producers may release single-vintage Champagne which are required to be aged for at least 3 years during outstanding vintages. Another time-consuming procedure is riddling. Bottles are placed 45 degrees downwards on an A-shaped rack and turned slightly right and left alternatively until lees accumulate at the neck of the bottle. The process disgorging removes lees and replaces cap with a mushroom-shaped cork.

傳統的方法有時被稱為méthode champenoise,是生產香檳的唯一方法。收穫的葡萄與紅白酒以同樣方式發酵,酵母將葡萄中的天然糖轉化為酒精和二氧化碳,釋放二氧化碳並產生葡萄酒,然後再在瓶內進行二次發酵。沒有年份(NV)的香檳是將不同年份產生的葡萄酒混合,繼而發酵並裝瓶。混合的葡萄酒還加入少量的糖,稱為liqueur de tirage。瓶蓋代替木塞,把葡萄酒密封。在第二次發酵過程中釋放的二氧化碳被困在瓶內並溶解在酒中,而這種產生氣泡的方式被認為是最昂貴和最耗時,但卻能製造最好的香檳。沒有年份的香檳根據Appellation d'origine contrôlée法例必須在酒窖陳釀至少15個月,一些香檳生產商甚至可能在出色的年份期間推出單一年份香檳,並需至少陳年3年。另一個製造香檳的耗時過程就是轉瓶,瓶子在A形架上向下45度放置,不時被微微左右轉動,直到剩餘或死亡的酵母在瓶頸上積聚。Disgorging的過程會把它們去除,最後用蘑菇形軟木塞代替瓶蓋。

Champagne Producers


While big Champagne brands dominate the market, there is a rising demand for lesser known and smaller brands. Some consumers prefer Champagne with distinctive style and flavors over traditional ones. Here are the short forms of the types of Champagne on the wine label:


NM: Négociant manipulant. These Champagne houses source grapes from other grape growers and produce Champagne on their own. They often have long-term contract with growers.

CM: Coopérative manipulant. Grape growers blend their collective vineyards to sell Champagne under one or more labels. Some of the growers may be involved in the winemaking process.

RM: Récoltant manipulant. Alternatively known as grower Champagne, growers make wines from their own grapes (a maximum of 5% of purchased grapes is permitted). Note that co-operative members who take their bottles to be disgorged at the co-op can now label themselves as RM instead of RC.

SR: Société de récoltants. An association of growers make a shared Champagne but are not a co-operative.

RC: Récoltant coopérateur. It is a single co-operative member who sells a brand under its own name but doesn’t involve in the winemaking process.

NM:Négociant manipulant。這些香檳酒廠從其他葡萄種植者採購葡萄,並自行生產香檳,它們通常與種植者簽有長期合同。

CM:Coopérative manipulant。葡萄種植者將他們的共同葡萄園混合,並一起銷售香檳,而其中一些種植者可能參與釀酒過程。

RM:Récoltant manipulant。亦被稱為grower Champagne,種植者從自己的葡萄釀造葡萄酒(最多只能使用5%外購葡萄)。值得注意的是,合作社成員若將他們的酒在合作社進行Disgorging,現在可以將自己標為RM而不是RC。

SR:Société de récoltants。種植者製造共同的香檳,但他們不是合作社的成員。

RC:Récoltant coopérateur。這是一個以自己的名義銷售品牌,但不涉及釀酒過程的單一合作社成員。

Types of Champagne


Other than the rising bubbles inside a flute glass and the prestigious image, the golden yellow color is also another distinguished characteristic of Champagne. It leads to a misconception that Champagne is only made by the renowned white grape Chardonnay. As a matter of fact, there is a number of types of Champagne.


Blanc de blancs: It is “white of whites” in French, which means the Champagne is made by Chardonnay only or in some rare cases, blending with other permitted white grape varieties. The term may also appear in sparkling wines from other places but they usually imply a Chardonnay-only wine.

Blanc de noirs: It is “white of blacks” in French, which means a white Champagne exclusively made from black grapes. The grape skin contact with grape juice during maceration is kept minimum so that the wine color remains pale.

Rosé Champagne: It is a pink Champagne that is made by either macerating black grapes in grape juice or adding a small amount of red wine in the juice.

Blanc de blancs:法文解“白中白”,意味著香檳僅由Chardonna釀造,或在極少數情況下與其他葡萄品種混釀。這個詞也可能出現在其他地方的起泡酒中,但通常指由單一Chardonnay造的葡萄酒。

Blanc de noirs:法文解“白中黑”,意即白色的香檳完全由黑葡萄製成。葡萄皮在浸漬過程中與葡萄汁保持最低限度的接觸,使葡萄酒顏色保持金黃色。


Rosé Champagne:這是一種粉紅色的香檳,通過黑葡萄在葡萄汁中浸漬或在果汁中加入少量紅葡萄酒而製成的。

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