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The tasty, bubbly wine we call Champagne can be made with varying percentages of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier in the cool climate of northeastern France. Typical examples of Champagne display crisp acidity with flavors of toast and brioche along with notes of apple and citrus.
The production method of Champagne is called Méthode Champenoise. After the primary fermentation of the grape juice is finished the result is bottled and yeast and some type of sugar are added to create a secondary fermentation in the bottle. It is during the secondary fermentation that these magical bubbles in Champagne occur.
Some of the terms used to describe the sweetness of Champagne can be confusing. The most commonly used descriptions are Brut, Extra Dry, and Demi-Sec. Brut is actually one of the drier classifications that many include even drier examples such as Extra Brut or Brut Nature. Extra Dry despite what many people think, is dry, but actually a tad sweeter than Brut. Demi-sec, is rather uncommon, but is a semi-sweet example.
The designation “Blanc de Blanc” means the Champagne is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes while “Blanc de Noir” literally means “white from black”. This type is made from only from the red grapes Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier. Minimal skin contact in the wine making process can actually create what looks like a white wine from red grapes.
Leaving the juice in contact with the skins of red grapes during maceration for a short time, a process called saigneé, can produce a pink-colored Champagne known as rosé. It is also permitted to produce rosé Champagne by adding red still wine to the blend to create a uniform color.
Famous Champagne houses such as Krug, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Bollinger, Louis Roederer, Tattinger, and Moët & Chandon who make the iconic Dom Pérignon have been refining their craft for over 100 years (200+ in some cases). With only the rarest of exceptions, no bottle of sparkling wine produced outside the Champagne region can have the word “Champagne” printed on its label. The highest examples of Champagne know no equal and thus, have been legally protected.