Champagne is a wonderful drink but with a specific vocabulary to describe all its varieties. Blogwines gives you a few words which could help you to choose your champagne.
There are 4 main categories of champagne:
- Champagne Brut Classique: this is the most common one, Made of 3 different grape varieties such as Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.
- Champagne Blanc de Blancs: lively, creamy and delicate, composed with Chardonnay only.
- Champagne Blanc de Noirs: made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, it is stronger than the other champagnes and is more alcoholised.
- Champagne Rosé: coming from the merge of red and white wines, it is more full-bodied and there is often a strawberry flavour.
Within these 4 champagne families, there are several categories based on the residual sugar (natural sugars coming from grapes and also eventual added sugars) dosing going from the dryest one to the sweetest one.
- Champagne Brut Nature: no added sugar and less than 3g of residual sugar
- Champagne Extra-Brut: (0 to 6g of sugar per liter). If the sugar content is below than 3 gramms, it can even be called Brut Nature, Non-Dosé or Brut-Zero.
- Champagne Brut: : from 6 to 12 grams of sugar per liter.
- Champagne Extra-Sec (Extra-Dry):12 to 17 of sugar per liter.
- Champagne Sec (Dry): from 17 to 32 grams of sugar per liter.
- Champagne Demi-Sec (Half-dry): from 32 to 50 grams of sugar per liter.
- Champagne Doux (Sweet): more than 50 grams of sugar per liter.
There are 3 ranges of champagne:
- Champagne Non-Millesime: the lighest, it is made of cuvees with different ages. In order to maintain a constant style, the champagne producers keep old millesimes reserves, year after year. Champagne Non-Millesime can be served as soon as bought, However it is worth to wait for 6 months.
- Champagne Millésimé: only produced for the good years. It is richer and more savourous than the Non-Millesime but its ageing needs to be made of 10 years at least.
- Cuvées Spéciales or Prestiges: Very high quality, these champagnes are millésimes which are often sold in special bottles and usually very expensive. They can be kept for decades.
And finally, some compulsory mentions on the etiquette:
Champagne is the only AOC wine ( i.e.Appelation Origine Contrôlée – french official label) but this is not compulsory to mention on the bottle. However the etiquette must contain information such as: “Champagne”, the brand or producer name, the number given by the Champagne interprofessional committee, preceded by:
- NM: Negociant Manipulant (buyer of grapes and production).
- CM: Coopérative Manipulant (Manipulating Cooperative).
- RM: Récoltant Manipulant (producer and winemaker).
- MA: Marque Auxiliaire (Auxiliary Brand).
You know the main particularities of the champagne now! …Cheers and enjoy!