Champagne is often an acquired taste and people discover the pleasure of champagne at various stages of their life, as their tastes develop. Remember, our pallets develop over time and we often hear of people who ‘don’t get’ champagne as a 21 year old, but really enjoy sparkling wine as they get older. But what exactly is champagne?
Champagne is actually a sparkling wine produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France. In other words, we can find sparkling wines made to the same exacting processes in other areas and countries, but to be labelled as champagne, the wine has to be made in the Champagne region of France! Many of us use the term ‘champagne’ as a generic term for sparkling wine, but the majority of countries reserve the term exclusively for sparkling wines that come from Champagne and are produced under the rules of the appellation.
Strict rules govern the production of champagne and the secret of its fizz is a secondary fermentation of the wine in the bottle to create carbonation. It is the time and attention required in this méthode champenoise that gives champagne a higher price tag than that of ordinary non-carbonated wine.
The primary grapes used in the production of Champagne are black Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, and white Chardonnay. No other grape varieties are allowed under Champagne appellation law, which also only allows grapes grown according to appellation rules in specifically designated plots within the appellation to be used in the production of Champagne.
Different producers, however, will use different percentages of the three grapes for a range of Champagnes to appeal to every taste. If you are new to champagne, then readign the descriptions of the ranges within the Borel Lucas range will point you to the champagne for you. For example, some prefer the crisper Pinot based approach to champagne, whilst others prefer the fatter more rounded Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay) style.
Champagne first gained popularity in the 17th, 18th and 19th centurys, as royalty became associated with the product. The leading manufacturers made efforts to associate their Champagnes with nobility and royalty through advertising and packaging, which led to popularity among the emerging well-off middle classes.
Today you don’t need to be Royalty to drink fine champagne, as producers like Borel Lucas are producing exceptional sparklers at very reasonable prices. If you have not tried a Borel Lucas, we invite you to order a couple and share your thoughts back with us.