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CHAMPAGNE

Vinatis proposes a quality range of Champagne so you can have a good time without breaking the bank. All our bottles are blind tasted by our wine experts before being selected for our site, so you know that every bottle has our stamp of approval. 

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CHAMPAGNE: A WINE THAT HAS CONQUERED THE WORLD


A must-see destination for great lovers of sparkling wines, Champagne is undoubtedly one of the most famous French vineyards in the world. Its fame is due to itssparkling wine. A nectar whose success has gone far beyond the French borders! Protected by an appellation d'origine contrôlée and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, champagne owes its fame to its quality, achieved through a unique know-how perpetuated for centuries.

THE WINE OF KINGS, THE KING OF WINES


Since the Roman Empire, Champagne has been a wine region producing prestigious wines. However, these nectars were not previously sparkling wines. Indeed, in the Middle Ages, the region produced still wines. As in the majority of French vineyards, Champagne vines were cultivated by monks in abbeys, priests and other members of the clergy, but also by princely families.

The reputation of Champagne wines took on a new dimension when Clovis, King of the Franks, was baptised by Saint-Remi in Reims in 496. The reputation of this wine then continued to grow, notably thanks to the sacrifice of many kings of France within the cathedral of Reims.

Between the 16th and 17th centuries, King Henry IV, a bon vivant, also contributed to the influence of the wines of this region, since it was during his reign that the nectar produced there would be called "Vin de Champagne". In 1654, during the coronation of Louis XIV, Champagne was officially recognised as the wine of the coronations at the French Court.

CHAMPAGNE: DOM PÉRIGNON, INITIATOR OF THE MÉTHODE CHAMPENOISE


The myth of Champagne as a sparkling wine is linked to the story of Dom PĂ©rignon. This Benedictine monk, procurator of the Abbey of Hautvillers, is said to be the originator of what is now known as the "methode champenoise". He is said to have discovered the controlled method of double fermentation of Champagne wine in the bottle, thus managing to master the "devil's wine". Unable to explain at the time the reason for the explosion of the bottles due to the effervescence of the wine, this phenomenon was attributed to the devil.

To overcome this difficulty, Dom PĂ©rignon introduced the use of the cork stopper held to the bottle. It was not until the 19th century and Pasteur's scientific advances on fermentation that this belief about Champagne was demystified.

A FESTIVE WINE WITH WORLDWIDE SUCCESS


The globalisation of Champagne began mainly during the 18th century. During the reign of Louis XV, Versailles was a source of inspiration for the entire West. From that time onwards, champagne, a fine wine that popped the cork, was synonymous with festivity and luxury. Unlike other wines, this nectar cannot be sold in pitchers or barrels. In order to be able to ship it, a royal decree thus authorises it to be marketed in thick bottles.

Inspired by this fashion, other great European courtss (Austria, Germany, Northern Europe) also began to drink Champagne. The influence of this nectar spread to other continents thanks to the settlement of Europeans with a colonialist aim, thus contributing to its worldwide success. Over time, this festive wine became the flagship drink of the aristocratic milieus, eventually becoming democratised for sale in the middle of the 20th century. Unavoidable at festive moments and assimilated to a refined gastronomy, Champagne represents excellence and the art de vivre à la française.

In the 19th century, the reputation of Champagne continued to grow with a fine progression both on the national and international markets. If more than 50% of the production is consumed in France, this nectar is relatively appreciated in the rest of the world. Regarding exports, the long-term trend is for it to travel to the four corners of the world: it is mainly the United States that constitutes the most important market, followed by the United Kingdom, then Japan in third place.

Several factors contribute to the increase in Champagne sales. This starts with the positioning of the product from a brand perspective, constituting a benchmark and a guarantee of quality for consumers. In this sector, the brands of Champagne are put forward, thus taking on a mythical dimension. To maintain the myth of this nectar, the Champagne houses highlight the quality and value of the product through an advanced marketing strategy. Associated with an imagination and making people dream, the brands' communication is based on an emotional and immaterial promise. By buying Champagne, consumers buy the brand image of a house and the promise of a celebration.

To seduce consumers, Champagne brands are constantly creating novelty such as the release of new vintages. Sparking customer interest, the launch of a cuvée is a real event to be made unforgettable, whether it is in terms of the bottle or the packaging.

In addition, consumption habits that change over the years contribute to the influence of Champagne. Such is the case, for example, of the orientation of sales towards consumption at home, and no longer only in hotel bars and restaurants or during weddings and receptions. To indulge themselves and create moments of conviviality and sharing at home, many consumers have adopted champagne in their daily lives without reserving it only for special occasions.

The same applies to the creation of new rituals such as the cocktail trend or nomadic consumption. The latter is notably promoted by the champagne house Veuve Clicquot. This brand offers nomadic collections allowing consumers to drink Champagne anywhere and on any occasion.

A UNIQUE KNOW-HOW AT THE ORIGIN OF EXCEPTIONAL WINES


Iconic and timeless, Champagne is renowned for its qualities and its manufacture based on traditional know-how. Originally bubble-free, Champagne wine became an effervescent wine thanks to a second fermentation: the sugar is gradually transformed into alcohol through the action of yeasts present on the skin surrounding the skin with the sugar from the grape pulp. This generates the formation of carbon dioxide, creating the bubbles. In addition to the combination of various elements causing this natural phenomenon, champagne also owes its quality to different stages carried out with rigour and mastery by the Champagne houses:

  • Hand harvesting
  • Pressing or skin maceration
  • Fermentation, blending of still wines, then second fermentation in the bottle
  • The bottling and the setting of the mousse
  • Ageing on the lees in Champagne cellars
  • Remuage, the periodic turning of the bottles to move sediment towards the cork
  • Disgorgement
  • The definition of sugar content (dosage)

A SET OF SPECIFICATIONS FOR PRODUCTION


In 1927, a law was passed to delimit the territory of the Champagne wine region. In 1936, Champagne became an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée, marking its full recognition in the world. This AOC is governed by a cahier des charges rigoureux specifying the rules to be respected in terms of grape varieties, but also concerning the wine-making process. All this guarantees the consistent quality of the Champagnes. It should be noted that the interprofession champenoise jealously protects this appellation against misuse for other wines, other drinks or other products in the world.

A MOSAIC OF TERROIRS


The AOC Champagne covers an area of over 34,000 hectares approximately, comprising over 270,000 parcels. The vineyards are spread over the territory of over 300 communes, including 17 villages classified as "Grand Cru" and 44 as "Premier Cru". They constitute a unique terroir, whose climate, soil and subsoil, and relief shape a specific combination. It is this particularity that gives champagnes their typicality. The Champagne terroir is made up of four major regions: the Vallée de la Marne, the Montagne de Reims, the Côte des Blancs, the Côte des Bar.

Champagne owes its richness and uniqueness to the diversity of soils and exposures of these terroirs, creating numerous microclimates in this wine region. It should be noted that the Champagne terroir has another specificity: the chalk. Some champagne houses have set up their cellars in historic chalk pits, some of which date back over 2,000 years. These cellars bring together various conditions necessary for the making of Champagne: a constant temperature, darkness and optimal hygrometry.

THE CHAMPAGNE GRAPE VARIETIES

Different grape varieties may enter the blend for the production of Champagne. However, three varieties are mainly used, namely Chardonnay, a white grape variety, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, black grape varieties. Other grape varieties are also authorized, representing a tiny part of the Champagne vineyard: thePetit Meslier, the Pinot Gris, the Pinot Blanc and the Arbane.

CHAMPAGNE HOUSES: ICONIC NAMES (RUINART, NICOLAS FEUILLATE, TAITTINGER…)

Over the centuries, great names have helped shape the history of Champagne. The owner of Gallo-Roman chalk pits beneath the city of Reims and the originator of the first rosé Champagne, the Ruinart house is the oldest. Offering only vintage Champagne, Dom Pérignon is also among the great Champagne houses. Thanks to their expertise and excellent products, other brands are among the biggest names in the region: Veuve Cliquot, Krug, Bollinger,Nicolas Feuillatte, Mumm, Taittinger, Henri Giraud, Philipponnat, Pol Roger, Laurent Perrier, Gosset, Deutz, Louis Roederer and many more.

BLANC DE BLANCS, BLANC DE NOIRS, NON DOSÉ, EXTRA-BRUT… DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHAMPAGNE


Champagne is often a result of blending different grape varieties. By mixing different vintages and different grapes, it is possible to obtain a wide variety of Champagne styles :

  • Blanc de blancs, made exclusively of white grape varieties, often Chardonnay.
  • Blanc de noirs, made exclusively of black grape varieties, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir
  • RosĂ©, made either by adding red wine into the blend or by macerating the black grape varieties a short period of time before the fermentation.

The type of Champagne can also vary according to their sweetness due to the proportions of the dosage: Non Dosé/ Brut Nature, Extra-Brut, Brut, Extra-Dry, Sec, Demi-Sec and Doux.

The majority of Champagne production represents mainly Non vintage or NV, which means a blend of different years' harvest. The most prestigious cuvées are labelled "Champagne Grand Cru", "Champagne Premier Cru" or even "Vintage Champagne" obtained from a single terroir or from several crus from the same year.

A FESTIVE WINE SYNONYMOUS WITH LUXURY, PRESTIGE AND SPECIAL OCCASIONS


Many sparkling wines are produced around the world. However, Champagne remains unique and inimitable. A symbol of celebration par excellence and tradition, this nectar makes special occasions perfect: wedding, anniversary, professional event, sports or even artistic. In the collection of Champagne houses, some products represent luxury to perfection. As proof, the luxury group LVMH has made Champagne one of its pillars by acquiring several great brands such as Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon or Veuve Clicquot.

Sought after by collectors and discerning enthusiasts because of their rarity, the prestige cuvees reflect the expertise of the houses. Extremely sought after, these great Champagnes, often worked on small sales volumes and in limited production, are generally made from exceptional soil. Some Champagne houses operate parcels of vines that benefit from unique conditions. With incredible finesse, these parcel vintages bring a touch of prestige to major events.

Generally, the limited edition coffrets promise to offer consumers a unique taste experience. Often, to publicise these limited series, whose bottle designs are often unprecedented, brands do not hesitate to sign an artistic collaboration with singers, artists and other celebrities becoming their muse. Inviting itself to the table of palaces and grand hotels, Champagne is also establishing its status as a luxury product thanks, for example, to product placement in famous films, but also to American rappers who have made it their drink of choice.

DIFFERENT FORMATS OF CHAMPAGNE (MAGNUM, JEROBOAM…): BOTTLES AND GIFT SETS


For those who wish to give a luxury gift, there is nothing like a bottle of Champagne. Whether it is to please the great amateurs or to initiate a lesser connoisseur, different gift sets of Champagnes can be chosen. To make a lasting impression, opting for a luxury gift box is recommended. With their novel and original packaging, the gift recipient will be amazed by the particularity of these real works of art. For breathtaking gifts, large formats of Champagne are the way to go. Magnum, Jeroboam, Mathusalem or even Salmanazar are perfect for special occasions such as a wedding.

To seduce the great amateurs, a prestige Champagne combining finesse of texture, refinement, elegance and power is a special attention. For example, it is possible to offer a high-end Champagne such as a Vintage Champagne, a Grand Cru Champagne or a Premier Cru Champagne.

GROWER CHAMPAGNE

Find out our selection of small artisanal producers in Champagne.

HOW MUCH A DECENT CHAMPAGNE COSTS?


Champagne is expensive. This is one of the preconceived ideas about this sparkling wine. The specifications of the Champagne AOC, the specificities of the terroir or the elaboration process are among the reasons for its high price. However, it is now possible to find inexpensive Champagnes, perfect for more ordinary tasting moments. For this, turning to entry-level Champagnes is an excellent alternative. It is also worth noting that part of the Champagne vineyards are organically or biodynamically cultivated, without synthetic plant protection products or chemical fertiliser. Generally, organic Champagnes offer excellent value for money. They are often produced by small Champagne producers, within family farms. Namely, a Grower Champagne is made from A to Z by the winemaker, from growing the vines through winemaking to marketing.

In addition to the quality of the products, many independent winemakers offer excellent cuvées at more affordable prices than the major Champagne houses. Among the producers grouped in the Grower Champagne collective are Didier Doue, CL de la Chapelle, Thierry Massin, Haton & Filles, Edouard Brun or François-Brossolette, among others.

SUCCULENT FOOD AND CHAMPAGNE COMBINATIONS


Very often served as an apéritif or with dessert, Champagne can nevertheless be invited to the table to accompany an entire meal. The only condition to respect is to match it with the different dishes according to its sugar content. For the aperitif, a Brut Nature or Extra Brut Champagne, bringing freshness and offeringfine bubbles is in order. Tarama, slices of cured ham, Comté or Parmesan cheese or large prawns are perfect as a side dish. On the other hand, dishes spiked with salt or spices are not recommended so as not to crush the texture of the Champagne. To accompany entrées with maritime accents such as seafood, fish ceviche or sushi, this same type of Champagne is perfectly suited. The acidity of the nectar blends perfectly with the iodized minerality of these dishes. The combination creates a pleasant freshness in the mouth. Fine and elegant, a Blanc de Blancs Champagne is also usually enjoyed as an aperitif. However, it also goes well with fish and seafood dishes, served with a creamy sauce. Much more powerful, fruity and opulent, a Blanc de Noirs Champagne sublimates dishes with a little more character such as roasted white meat, in sauce or stuffed. For a semi-cooked foie gras, a Blanc de Noirs, but also a Blanc de Blancs from a more mature and powerful vintage is in order.Powerful and fruity, a Rosé Champagne is a wonderful accompaniment to dishes with a powerful flavour such as duck or lamb. This sparkling wine also goes well with game dishes enhanced with a red fruit sauce. For dessert, a Rosé Champagne pairs well with a chocolate moelleux or a red fruit preparation. With their high sugar content, Demi-Sec and Sec Champagnes are often served with dessert.

After this brief overview of the Champagne phenomenon, both in our collective imagination and in the glass, it is easier to understand why this French wine that has become mythical has conquered its popularity around the world. Distinguished, it lends itself to all of life's great occasions, from simple pleasures to celebrations and festivities. What is most surprising is that its greatness and reputation are far from diminishing and even extend beyond the circumference of the globe, if the latest wine-making experiments are to be believed: thanks to a bottle specially designed by the designer Octave de Gaulle, this prestigious and festive wine will be able to adapt to weightlessness. A witness to several centuries of history and looking to the future, this sparkling wine is also going to conquer space! While waiting to experience a fun and festive moment in space, bring a touch of elegance to your celebrations or simple aperitif thanks to the wide selection of Champagnes available on Vinatis. Great Houses or Champagne from small producers, Non Vintage, Vintage, Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, Rosé, Brut Nature, Brut or Sec, there is something for everyone!

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