When it comes to extravagance and celebration, there’s just one thing that strikes everyone’s mind—a finely crafted bottle of champagne. It is an undeniable fact that a bottle of well-made champagne adds glory to every occasion. While most people are familiar with the fancy names of champagnes and sparkling wines, not everyone knows what goes into making their beloved champagne.
The selection of grapes is the most critical step in making a Champagne. It decides the taste, flavors, aroma, and intensity of your sparkling wine. Different grapes have specific features and are grown in favorable conditions to aid their perfect production. The finest of sparkling wines in the world are made from either 100% one variety grape or a perfectly balanced blend of two or more.
Sometimes the term sparkling wine and champagne is used interchangeably, that’s where many go wrong. While all kinds of champagne are sparkling wine, not all kinds of sparkling wine are champagne. Champagne – a sparkling wine named after a region where it is mostly grown and fermented, called Champagne in France.
Most sparkling wines and Champagne from around the world are made from blending wines of red, black, and white grapes. This age-old method permits more time for the sparkling wine to craft into its fine and balanced taste. In fact, temperature too plays an important role in the variety and flavor of the grapes and, therefore, the wine. For example, Pinot Noir grows up in a cooler climate and has distinctive berry aromas.
So to know your wine better, you should always know what goes into it. On that note, here are the different kinds of grapes used to make champagne:
Pinot Noir Champagne Grapes
Pinot noir is the most sought-after grape assortment used for making champagne. Regardless of its low ripeness, it flourishes in cool, white soils and grows well in Reims Mountain and the Aube districts. These black grapes enjoy almost inescapable favoritism making them one of the most widely used grapes in making champagne.
This grape gives the champagne a vigorous character that you can observe in its rich taste. Pinot Noir has been famed for the style statement and class it adds to a gathering with its distinct scent and flavor.
Pinot Meunier Champagne Grapes
This wine takes over almost 32% of the wine area. These black grapes produce a white juice which makes them ideal for champagne production. Mostly found in the Marne Valley due to its favorable clay soils, it is a more straightforward kind of champagne. Meunier demonstrates a very good mixing flexibility and brings to the table a fruity and fullish taste.
Adding extravagance with its fruits, Meunier adds a distinguished tang to the mix. It is a late-maturing grape and does very well in the Valle de La Marne because it isn’t as inclined to frost or extreme conditions. There are numerous incredible 100% Pinot Meunier Champagnes available on the market.
However, when mixed with wild berries, it shows an articulated nose of charcuterie with a very distinct taste that is inclined towards a rather natural flavor.
Chardonnay Champagne Grapes
The most hyped champagne, and rightly so, is Chardonnay. Made from white grape, it covers almost 30% of the Champagne-wine sector. Chardonnay is produced from the best Champagne grapes that bring out its distinguished sense and aroma. It comes fundamentally from the Côte des blancs region.
Utilized for making “Blanc de Blancs” Champagnes, Chardonnay is known for its fragile flower fragrances. Its lethargic maturing measure makes this grape assortment ideal for wines bound to be saved for quite a while. Champagne made totally from Chardonnay will be lighter and racier.
Pinot Blanc Grapes
Pinot Blanc is natively produced in Alsace. This champagne needs more tending to than the others. These greenish-red grapes need to be gently cared for while the production process is going on. The comparatively larger size of these grapes makes them more susceptible to botrytis; thus, they need to be taken utmost care of.
It has bigger leaves in red or light green shades. These grapes have a signature smell inclined towards a flowery and honey-like fragrance. Pinot blanc and its rich flavors and aroma help produce wines that are full and rich in taste.
Pinot Gris Champagne Grapes
This is a lesser found and fermented variety of grapes and is used in only less than 1% of wines. Pinot Gris or Pinot Beurot adds a bit of fruitiness to the blend. It ages early and has a more rose-like color in terms of the shade when it matures. Pinot Gris has leaves that are pretty much like Pinot Noir. It has a great deal of body, extravagance, and good development.
Petit Meslier Champagne Grapes
Petit Meslier grows slowly and is a rare white grape that is used as a minor component of some Champagne blends. It has little leaves and smaller berries, and when not blended, it gives a very prominent wine tasting of apples. It has a specific greenness that a few groups believe is like Sauvignon Blanc. Petit Meslier is largely valued for its ability to retain acidity very well.
Arbane Champagne Grapes
Arbanne is a rare grape variety with a low yield on the slopes. Traditionally it comes from the Aube Valley. This variety of grapes show a faster yield, and when grown in a high shade or canopy-like structure, they grow well. Its leaves grow into each other as twistings and produce a small number of grapes. It adds rusticity to the flavor when blending with other grapes. Being a rare find that Arbane is, it is also called the Aube Valley’s forgotten grape.
The entire winemaking process is a beautiful journey, and each step right from picking the grapes to serving that perfect glass of wine is equally important. When it comes to sparkling wines, champagne has carved an unbeatable niche for itself. But to know what process it goes through and what exactly goes into making it is as important as popping a bottle of champagne on a lovely day.