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"Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!" - Dom Pérignon 

Champagne Method

What is the Champagne Method?

  • Champagne is unique in that it undergoes not one, but two alcoholic fermentations. This process simply uses yeast to convert the natural sugars found in the grape must into alcohol, with a bi product of carbon dioxide (CO2). Fermentation helps to influence the final flavours and aromas of the wine by contributing yeast like or ‘autolytic’ flavours and aromas.


  • The first fermentation happens in stainless steel (sometimes in oak), after the grapes have been pressed. The second fermentation happens later on in the bottle. Fermenting in Oak can add further oak derived flavours and aromas such as nuts, wood, and toast.


  • Malolactic fermentation (MLF) is an optional process (normally used) that transforms malic acid into lactic acid. MLF also influences the aromas and flavours by providing lactic flavours as well as lowering high acidity and creating a soft, creamy texture. Winemakers looking to create a fresh, crisp and fruity style of Champagne would avoid this process and only use stainless steel during both the fermentation and maturation process.

  • Clarification is the final process before bottling that ‘cleans’ the wine by removing impurities and ensuring the liquid is crystal clear. Wine makers can fine, filter or use centrifuging or crossflow filtration to achieve this. Lees (dead yeast cells that are left in the wine to add autolytic favours) are also removed at this stage. We are now left with ‘vins clairs’ or a ‘base wine’ which can now be used to blend and create a final liquid ready to bottle.

Champagne Method

The Grapes

There are seven permitted grape varieties in the Champagne region, and each are planted in various locations to best display the ‘terroir’ of that plot.


The plantings are predominantly made up of the black grape varietals (Pinot Noir and Meunier), as well as the most important white grape (Chardonnay), followed by a total representation of 0.3% of plantings made up by the remaining white grapes (Arbane, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris).


The Grapes

Champagne Vintages

The term ‘vintage’ in regard to Champagne simply describes a bottle that has been made with grapes from a single year. A 'non-vintage' on the other hand refers to a Champagne that has been created by blending parcels of base wine from several separate years.

Neither are superior as the resulting style are very different.

A vintage Champagne should only be created from an outstanding year’s harvest, and should express the characteristics of that year, whereas a non-vintage Champagne is created to produce wines with a house's style that is consistent year on year.

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Life Cycle of a Vine

Vine Life Cycle

Glossary of Terms

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