In Search of the Perfect Champagne
- By Lisa Giovanella
- Dec 28, 2022
Are you looking for a way to add some sparkle and fun to your life? Treat yourself by popping open a bottle of champagne! This bubbly beverage has been enjoyed as an indulgence since before the French Revolution, but it isn't just reserved for special occasions: with its light tasting notes and effervescent quality, champagne is suitable for any type of celebration. Whether you’re in the mood to paint the town red or curl up with friends at home, enjoy adding that extra touch of class – even if it's just cracking open a bottle when Tuesday night rolls around. Feel free to get creative, mix it up with cocktails, try different types like brut or rose - there are endless possibilities so let your taste buds be your guide!
The Champagne region in France is known for its sparkling wine. In fact, they’ve done such a great job at marketing themselves as the best sparkling wine in the world, it is common to refer to any sparkling wine as ‘Champagne’. While many regions around the world aspire to produce wines like they do in this famous region, only wines from the delimited area of Champagne can be labelled as such.
We carry over 100 unique Champagnes from over 60 producers. This is probably overwhelmingly for anybody new to the region, so here are a few tips to find that perfect bottle.
Fun Facts about Champagne:
- The region is located east of Paris (about an hour by TGV train to Reims)
- The wines must be made in the traditional method
- The traditional method winemaking technique imparts notes of brioche and toast flavours into the wines
- The most common permitted grape varieties are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier
- The wines from this region have a signature crisp acidity
- The region is dominated by large wineries and brands. These large producers are referred to as Champagne Houses (Veuve Cliquot, Moet & Chandon, Piper Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Taittinger, Louis Roederer, and more)
- Wines can be made from a single harvest, labelled as a Vintage Champagne or made from a blend of many vintages, often called non-vintage, to create a house style that is consistent from year to year
Now, how to navigate the options…
- First step is determining if you want a Vintage or Non-Vintage style. Price may be a factor, as the Vintage Champagnes are often more expensive, but if it’s not, the flavours may determine your preference. Are you looking for fresh lemon and apple flavours? Go for a Non-Vintage. Do you prefer flavours of baked apple, ginger and hazelnut? You may prefer the complexity that comes from the longer aging in a Vintage Champagne.
- Next consideration would be sweetness. The final step in the wine making process is adding a dosage, which changes the final sweetness in the wine. Majority of Champagnes and many sparkling wines are labeled with Brut, which has 0-12 grams per litre (g/l) of residual sugar (rs). The wines of Champagne have such high acidity that even this small amount of sweetness can make the wine taste dry. If you want something drier and are pairing it with a meal, consider Extra Brut (0-6 g/l rs) or do you have a sweet tooth? Try a Demi-Sec (32-50 g/l rs).
- Ranked from driest to sweetest, sparkling wines are classified as Brut Nature, Extra Brut, Brut (majority), Extra Dry (did you know most Proseccos are Extra Dry? Confusing, right?), Dry, Demi-Sec and Doux.
Next time you’re feeling fancy and want to spend a little more on a bottle of bubbly, think about the style of Champagne you want before selecting a label. Blanc de Blancs (made from 100% Chardonnay) will give you a crisper, brighter wine while Blanc de Noirs (made from red grapes) tend to be full-bodied with deeper fruit flavours. Most non-vintage wines are blends of all three types of grapes – so if you can’t decide, go for one of those! Maybe you want intense strawberry flavours in your wine. If so, try a rosé Champagne. Experiment and find what type of Champagne suits your palate best.
And if you are in front of the massive Champagne section at Everything Wine, feeling overwhelmed and unsure, just ask one of us what we're drinking. We love talking about wine almost as much as we love drinking it, and we'll be more than happy to share our favourites with you. So pop open a bottle of bubbly and toast to a great night! Me you ask? Well, I will be raising a glass with Champagne Castelnau Vintage 2006.