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Elaboration of our champagne

The first fermentation of the champagne wine is the alcoholic fermentation, which converts the must into wine. The yeasts 'eat' the sugar and thus produce alcohol and carbon dioxide, along with other elements that will characterize the flavour of the wine. This fermentation occurs just after the pressing, in stainless steel vats. The malolactic fermentation is the process that converts apple acids (malum is Latin for apple) into lactic acid (lac is Latin for milk) and carbon dioxide. They let the flavours evolve in the wine. The blending of champagne wines is a response to the volatile nature: parcels, harvests and years can lead to quite divergent results. The winemaker will blend wines so as to achieve clearly more than the sum of the qualities mixed. One can assemble wines of several parcels, of different grape varieties (chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot meunier) or of several years. Of course the wine maker can also decide to only assemble one of these dimensions: for example a ‘millésime’ if the vintage of a year is sufficiently exceptional to be elaborated without reserve wines, or an exceptional grape variety as our Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs with its typical flavour. One could even assemble wines of a parcel, a municipality or a hamlet. Filling the bottles – called the ‘tirage’ - may not happen before 1 January of the year following the vintage. Filling, followed by fermentation in the bottle, are intended to make a foaming wine, hence the French name "prise de mousse". To achieve this fermentation a liqueur is added, called the ‘liqueur de tirage’, which is composed of sugar, yeast and a remuage component. After the bottles are filled, they are sealed by a cap in polyethylene, called the "bidule", and then closed with a crown cap. Then they are taken to the basement and placed "sur lattes", i.e. piled in long rows with wooden strips in order to reach more stability. During this fermentation, which lasts 6 to 8 weeks, the yeast will consume all sugars, and bring in the wine next to alcohol and carbon dioxide also esters and superior alcohol contributing to the typical flavour characteristics of the wine.