All About Champagne and the 2007 Harvest in France

      The 2007 harvest in Champagne is set to result in the largest volume of wine ever produced in the appellation, Decanter reports.

      If current figures are correct, this year will beat the record level of 375 million bottles made from the bumper 2004 crop by more than 13 million bottles.

      Vineyard owners have the option of producing additional wine, with the aim of using this surplus to increase their reserves.

      Kept as still wine, the reserve is to be used in case of a drop in production due to a poor future harvest, or if demand continues to increase.


(Courtesy Domaine Chandon, Napa Valley, California)

Autolysis — The breakdown of yeast cells inside the sparkling wine bottle after the second fermentation is completed. This process contributes to the complexity and elegance of the wine.

Blanc de Blancs — Wines made primarily from Chardonnay or other white grapes.

Blanc de Noirs — Designates a white or slightly tinted wine made from black grapes, usually Pinot Noir. The tint comes from the pigments in the grape skins.

Bottle aging — Allowing the sparkling wine to acquire complexity, depth and fine texture in the bottle. Also known as aging “on the yeast,” “sur latte,” or “en tirage.”

Charmat — Also called the “bulk” process. Charmat sparkling wines are fermented in large tanks.

Cuvee — A blend of several varietal wines designed to become a well-balanced sparkling wine.

Cuvée de prestige — A winery’s most thoughtfully conceived, carefully crafted sparkling wine. Dom Perignon was the first.

Disgorging — The process by which the sediment collected in the neck of the sparkling wine bottle during the riddling process is frozen and expelled prior to final corking.

Dosage — The liqueur (sugar dissolved in reserve wine) added to the sparkling wine just before final corking. The dosage finishes the sparkling wine and determines its level of sweetness.

Fermentation — The action of yeast on natural grape sugars resulting in alcohol and carbon dioxide gas.

Methode Traditionnelle — The traditional French champagne method for producing sparkling wines.

Mousse — The ring of foam around the top of a glass of sparkling wine.

Non-vintage — Refers to those sparkling wines whose cuvées contain wine from more than one vintage.

Press — The piece of equipment used to gently separate grape juice from grape skins.

Prise de Mousse — The French term describing the effervescence created in the sparkling wine bottle during the second fermentation. Also called “the birth of the Champagne.”

Punt — The dome-shaped indentation in the bottom of a wine bottle.

Reserve — A term often used to designate a special wine.

Reserve wine — Wine from previous vintages added to the cuvée for consistent quality and style.

Riddling — The art of turning and tilting bottles of sparkling wine in order to ease the sediment into the neck of the bottle.

Rosé — A Champagne or sparkling wine whose slight pink tint often comes from the addition of a small portion of red wine to the cuvée before tirage.

Sparkling wine — A wine with bubbles created by a natural fermentation.

Tirage — The process of bottling the cuvée with the addition of active yeast and sugar in order to induce a second fermentation. The carbonation produced by this second fermentation is trapped in the bottle, producing the effervescence of sparkling wine.

Varietal wine — A wine with no bubbles.

Varietals — Different kinds of grapes. Popular varietals used in making sparkling wine include:

* Pinot Noir, a black grape used for structure and flavor.

* Chardonnay, a white grape used for delicacy, finesse and aging potential.

* Pinot Blanc, a white grape used for added complexity and texture.

* Pinot Meunier, a black grape used for added depth and maturity.

Vintage — The year in which grapes in a wine are harvested. Refers to sparkling wines whose cuvées contain wines made from a single year’s harvest.

Posted in Wine Region Profiles
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