If we appreciate Champagne so much, its effervescence, its robe, its aromas is undoubtedly thanks to the know-how of those who work every day to its elaboration in accordance with a very precise specifications.
After the work of the vine, the selection of the grapes, the transformation of sugar into alcohol, the skilful assembly then matures that allows the formation of bubbles and the development of the most subtle aromas.
Focus on the main stages of champagne development
Step 1: harvesting
Each year, depending on the level of maturity of the grapes, the Champagne Committee sets the harvest date for each commune and for each grape variety. The production of the champagne requiring the pressing of whole grapes, the harvest is exclusively carried out by hand. They are usually held in September.
Once the bunches are picked, they are weighed in order to control the yield that is regulated: 1 kg of grapes => 1.6 liter.
Step 2: pressing
The pressing consists of pressing the grapes manually to burst the berries. It takes place in a fractional way: first, the "cuvée" is extracted 75% very aromatic and then the "size" 25% remaining. There are 2,000 pressing centers in champagne.
Step 3: alcoholic fermentation
After pressing, the juices are sulphated to prevent their oxidation and decanted in order to clarify them. The juice is then placed in a tank (metal tank or wooden barrel). This phase of alcoholic fermentation lasts about 15 days: it is the transformation of grape juice into still wine. Preserved at a constant temperature of 18-20 ° C, this first "alcoholic" fermentation activates the natural yeasts present in the grape juice and / or added and converts the sugars into a mixture of alcohol (11% Alcohol) and carbon dioxide. After the alcoholic fermentation, the wines are clarified again. These "clear wines" will be able to be used for the next vinification or to be put in reserve for the future assemblages.
Malolactic fermentation is not a mandatory step. If it is practiced, it intervenes at the end of the alcoholic fermentation. It transforms malic acid into lactic acid and is carried out by bacteria to reduce the acidity of the wine. It modifies the organoleptic profile of the wines which will have milky notes, brioche and a more supple and melted acidity.
Step 4: Assembly
The winegrower assembles by mixing "quiet" (non-effervescent) wines from different crops for a constant final flavor. This stage constitutes the true "signature" of a champagne cuvée.
Step 5: Draw
The wine obtained is bottled, with added sugar and yeast. It is the draw which can not take place before 1 January of the year following the harvest. This ultimate fermentation transforms the wine into sparkling wine and allows the "taking of foam", the bottle is plugged with a "bidule" (capsule).
Step 6: aging in the cellar or maturation period
Champagne wine will take 15 months to make a raw champagne and 36 months to obtain a vintage. During aging, stirring will consist of turning the bottle from left to right and then putting it upside down to facilitate the accumulation of organic deposits.
Step 7: Disgorging
These will be frozen and then evacuated naturally during the disgorgement carried out by the neck of the bottle immersed in a liquid at -25 ° C. The loss of volume will be compensated by champagne and / or the dosage liquor, depending on the desired result. The bottle is then ready to receive the cork, the capsule, the muselet, the label and the collar which finalize the manufacture of the champagne before marketing.