Dom Perignon, father of Champagne
Dom Perignon was a French monk who, almost by accident, invented the Champenoise method. He found himself in an abbey surrounded by abandoned vineyards due to the wars. His patience led him to recover these vineyards. He carries out studies and experiments on the Champagne grape in order to obtain maximum yield. Tasting the grapes, he realized how the assembly of different varieties led to a completely new taste-olfactory completeness. His studies were especially dedicated to the Champagne Pinot noir grape. The vine, even if with black berry, with appropriate precautions, manages to give white wines of great aromatic completeness. Soft pressing and timely separation from the skins are the secret to using black grapes for the production of white wines.
Chardonnay, Pinot nero and Pinot meunier
The assembly of grapes from different vines aims to create a unique aromatic and gustatory complexity. The Champagne Chardonnay grape comes from the vine of the same name. Its main characteristic is that of having hints of tropical fruit such as pineapple and banana. Its origin is Middle Eastern. It seems that the Chardonnay vineyards were already raised on the hills around Jerusalem at the time of the Crusades. Pinot Noir remembers the pine cone. Its berries are narrow and crowded just like the cone scales. It is considered one of the best vines in the world both for the production of very fine red wines and as a base for sparkling wine. For this it is associated with Chardonnay. The Champagne Pinot grape gives structure and the Chardonnay completes it with its aromatic charge. Pinot meunier, finally, is present only in France. Meunier means miller. Its leaves are covered with fluff that resembles flour.
Refermentation in the bottle for the sparkling process
The Champagne grape is at the base of the homonymous wine produced with fermentation in the bottle. The grapes are carefully selected during the harvest. Only the bunches that have reached ideal ripeness are used. The soft pressing of the Champagne grape allows a delicate quality must to be obtained. The base wine obtained after alcoholic fermentation is placed in the bottle with the addition of selected yeasts and sugar. The cap, called bidule, collects fermentation residues. To facilitate the detachment of the solid parts from the glass, the bottles are placed on special trestles called pupitres. The cellars periodically rotate the bottles. At the end of the process that can last for years, the wine will be clear. Disgorgement is carried out with the subsequent topping up of the bottles with the liqueur d'expedition. A mixture of wine from previous vintages and cane sugar whose dosage is at the discretion of the producer.
Champagne grapes: classic method or Champagne
Champagne is the sparkling wine produced in the homonymous French region. The Champenoise or classic method is now used all over the world for the production of high quality bubbles. The name can only be used for wines from this French region. In Italy, the classic method is widely used both for native grapes and for grapes from international varieties. Franciacorta and Talento are some examples. Prosecco also includes a type of refermentation in the bottle. In Piedmont, the Alta Langa DOCG sparkling wine is produced which shows how this typology (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) has found ideal conditions for its expression. So in this case we can speak of classic method but not of Champagne. This term indicates both the French region and the wine produced in it.