“Come quickly, I am tasting stars” This was Dom Perignon’s famous quote after his first taste of Champagne. No other wine evokes the same romance and mystique as the wines of Champagne. Although people sometimes refer to any sparkling wines as champagne, only the wines from the Champagne region in France may be referred to as Champagne. The harsh climate of the Champagne region, combined with the lime-rich chalky soils, imparts most distinctive flavours to Champagne. The region of Champagne extends over the départements of Marne, Aisne, Seine-et-Marne, Haute-Marne and Aube.
The grape varieties traditionally used in Champagne production are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. They can be used singly, or the grape varieties can be blended, in a process known as Assemblage. The wine develops its signature effervescence from a process known as secondary fermentation. Once the wine has completed fermentation and has been blended, it is re-innoculated with yeast, in the Champagne bottle. The champagne bottles are sealed, and the wine ferments a second time, which creates the signature bubbles.
Famous Champagne houses include names such as Moet & Chandon, Louis Roederer, Taittinger, Pol Roger, Ruinart and Dom Pérignon.
The “champagne” process has since been used in many areas of the world but still it is champagne that provides that cachet.