On Tuesday October 29 the Comité Champagne hosted a Champagne tasting at the beautiful Ivy Room in Chicago. Guests had a chance to taste over 100 champagnes from 36 Champagne Producers.
The event had two goals. The first was to celebrate Champagne producers and to expose their product to local trade and media representatives. The second was to remind us Americans that CHAMPAGNE ONLY COMES FROM THE CHAMPAGNE REGION IN FRANCE.
This is very important! Just because a wine sparkles does not make it Champagne. Champagne is the most famous sparkling wine (made from chardonnay, pinot noir and or pinot muenier grapes) that comes from the Champagne region in northeast France. Champagnes are more costly because of the magic of that terroir (soil) and the famous Champagne houses (Dom Perignion, Billecart-Salmon, Bollinger) who have perfected the method for creating these magic bubbles. And more importantly, Champagne cost more than other sparkling wines, because well… they just taste better!
GET IT? Good!!! We don’t want to piss the French off!
All joking aside, these producers have worked long and hard and been subjected to strict French wine regulations in order to earn the coveted title Champagne. So please for the love of wine stop calling every beverage with fizz and alcohol Champagne.
Both Champagnes and sparkling wines have carbon dioxide bubbles which are a natural by product of fermentation. So if it does not come from Champagne, it is refereed to as sparkling wine in: Australia, Canada, Europe and the U.S. A Spanish sparkling wine is called Cava. Proseccos are sparkling wines from Italy.
Below are some of the facts the Comité Champagne wants you to know about Champagne (This information is quoted from the Comité Champagne’s Champagne: From Terrior to Wine brochure)
Location : The Champagne production zone (AOC vineyard area) is defined and delimited by the law of July 22nd of July 1927. Champagne Lies 150 kilometers east of Paris. There are four main growing regions: Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne, Côte des Blanc, and Côte des Bar.
Climate: The Champagne region lies at the northernmost limit of vine cultivation (latitude 45°5 and 48°North of Reims and Bar-sur-Seine respectively). Champagne is distinguished by a dual climate: continental and oceanic. The continental influences bring potentially devastating frosts in the winter and high levels of sunshine in the summer. The Oceanic influences keep temperatures on the low side and ensures steady rainfalls and no major weather fluctuation from year to year.
Soil and Sub Soil : The subsoil in Champagne is predominantly limestone. Outcropping sediments are likewise composed of 75% limestone (chalk, marl and limestone proper). This type of terrain provides good drainage and explains why certain champagnes wines have a distinct mineral taste.
Grapes : Pinot Noir , Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay are the predominant grape varietals used to make Champagne. Other approved varietals are Arbanne, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, however these grapes together make up less than 0.3% of the planting in Champagne.
Fermentation: Champagne wines are fermented twice. The first fermentation (the still) occurs in oak or stainless steel vats depending on the preference of the producer. The second fermentation occurs in the bottle. This second fermentation transforms still wine to sparkling wine.
For more information on Champagne visit the Champagne Bureau, USA website.
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