Champagne

Champagne is a sparkling wine produced only from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France, which is a single Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC).

The three primary grapes used in the production of Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (other grape varieties are permitted but rarely used).

Methode Champenoise is the traditional method by which Champagne is produced – where, after primary fermentation and bottling a second fermentation occurs in the bottle.

Most Champagnes are non-vintage where a minimum of one and a half years ageing is required. In years where there is an outstanding harvest Champagne houses may ‘declare’ the vintage (millesimé) using only grapes from that particular year – three years maturation is required for these wines.

Champagne producers must adhere to a strict set of rules and regulations as set down by the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC). These include the amount of pruning, pressing, crop yield, time on lees before bottling as well as limiting the release of Champagne to market to maintain prices.

Clos d'Ambonnay, Krug, Champagne

Krug Clos d’Ambonnay 2000

Read Tom Cannavan's view of the newly launched Krug Clos d'Ambonnay 2000 vintage Champagne.

Roederer vineyards

Champagne 2015 crop enters ‘crucial’ period

Champagne grape growers will be allowed to pick 10,000kg of grapes per hectare of vines in this year’s wine harvest, with another 500kg/ha to be released from reserve stocks –…

Champagnes

Michael Edwards’ top 10 Champagnes to lay down

Winston Churchill may have done it with his 1911s, but laying down Champagne isn’t something we tend to think about or make room for in our cellars. Michael Edwards selects…

Champagne cellar

How to store Champagne at home

Michael Edwards’ guide to laying down Champagne Six Champagne vintages for your cellar 10 Champagnes to lay down Some experts say, surprisingly, that all Champagne and sparkling wines should be…

Champagne bottle

Six Champagne vintages for your cellar

Read Michael Edwards’ guide to laying down Champagne How to store Champagne at home 10 Champagnes to lay down 2012 A brilliant August and a warm rainless September has shaped…

Champagne

Ageing gracefully: Laying down Champagne

Six Champagne vintages for your cellar How to store Champagne at home 10 Champagnes to lay down A misconception lingers in the minds of some wine consumers that Champagne doesn’t…