Guide to French champagne

The guide to French champagne

Now that you know the basis of Champagne (check out part 1 on the genesis of Champagne and here to learn about the art of champagne making), we will look more into the singularities of each bottle. 

This guide to champagne will help you figure out more about which French champagne to buy according to each particularity each champagne has. Champagne is a true representation of French art of living.

Guide to French champagne, here is some explanation on each “cru”:

Ultra brut, Brut nature or extra brut champagne

Seeking to get closer to French Champagne in its purest form, the ultra-brut is dynamic and chiseled, only composed of its natural sugars because it is without dosage (less than 6 grams per liter). Appreciated by connoisseurs, it opens the tasting to new flavors and light aromas.

Brut Champagne

Brut champagne is the flagship cuvée of each house and the star of aperitifs, a signature of the unique taste of the grape variety, the terroir and the know-how of each winegrower. It is a must.

Dry Champagne and semi-dry Champagne

Less famous than their colleagues, these French Champagnes have been making a comeback in recent years. Going against the trend of reducing the amount of sugar, their freshness and lightness nonetheless offer new possibilities for associations.

Sweet Champagne

Sweet champagne has a strong and powerful aromatic structure. These are the French champagnes with the highest sugar content. In one sip, it filled her mouth with an explosion of sweet flavor.

Blanc de blancs Champagne (White of whites)

A finer and more distinguished wine, blanc de blancs is often associated with elegance through its light color. Obtained with 100% Chardonnay, it is lively and delicate.

Blanc de Noirs Champagne (White of black)

Less known, the Blanc de Noirs has contrasting and powerful aromas, with a vinous character, closer to a still wine, which makes it interesting to associate throughout a meal, with elaborate or refined dishes for example. .

Rosé Champagne

Rosé Champagne is very fashionable thanks to its summer color. This is obtained by adding skins of red grapes during maceration, or by adding a red wine from Champagne. It is a brut French champagne. The special case of rosé champagnes should also be noted. These are usually produced raw and can be obtained: by maceration of black grapes before pressing, in the case of bleeding rosés; and by adding a small proportion of red wine during blending.

Vintage Champagne, Special or Prestige Cuvée

Certain French champagnes are worked specifically to magnify their aromas. This is the case for vintage champagnes which use wine from a single year considered interesting, special cuvées which are selected from among the most refined, and prestige cuvées which are aged for several years.

The “Champagnes” without bubbles

The region is known for its sparkling wines, but its vines also produce “still wines” (without bubbles like the Champagne hillsides or the Rosés des Riceys).

Guide to French champagne : Which champagne to choose for which occasion?

From social celebrations to more intimate occasions, bottles of French Champagne make all the important moments in life sparkle. It is a must in French Art of living. Choosing a bottle of champagne is actually more a matter of taste than occasion. A few general rules are useful to keep in mind in order to avoid missteps.

Champagne is above all a moment, and is appreciated mainly according to individual personal tastes. It is therefore first of all essential to be familiar with the names of the different dosages, here from the least sweet to the most sweet: plain brut or extra brut, brut, semi-dry and dry and sweet.

The rest is in the hands of the winegrower and the oenologist. The flavors of French Champagne wines are multiple and all rules except for one. Overall we recommend that you:

  • Aperitif champagnes, which are usually brut or extra brut champagnes;
  • Dessert champagnes, which are more to choose from among soft, dry or even semi-dry champagne;
  • Gourmet champagnes, which include blanc de blancs, blanc de noirs or vintage cuvées;
  • Special occasions champagnes in a castle for example : where blanc de blancs champagne is particularly distinguished by its liveliness and delicacy.

Guide to French champagne: is French champagne vegan ?

Champagne is not always 100% of plant origin, it is sometimes of animal origin. 

Most of the French champagnes use animal products. These products are used during the gluing phase. This helps clarify the mixture and remove impurities. 

It is not visually pleasing to drink champagne that is not crystal clear. You will notice that in French champagne there is no deposit like in red wine. This is, among other things, through splicing.

Concretely, there are several methods: either we let the wines stand to clean them. This is called a sedimentation method. But you can also add gluing tools, which will allow you to remove any unwanted particles that may have remained after pressing at the bottom of the tank. It is similar to the principle of a French press.

The origins of the products can come from:

  • Fish
  • Milk protein
  • Egg white
  • Pork gelatin
  • Synthetic product
  • Silica
  • Bentonites (clay)

Apart from the ethics on the production,  it has no impact on the taste. However, some splicings are more effective than others.

As you can see, it is possible to make the collage other than of animal origin.

Guide to French champagne: How to recognize a good Champagne?

You will recognize a good French champagne by its perfect balance between acidity and sweetness. An excellent champagne is felt by its finesse and freshness on the palate. Its bubble should not be coarse, the finer the bubble the better it will be. It will accompany all festivities and its dishes with refinement in true French Art of Living style. 

Which brand of champagne to choose?

There is a huge choice of branded champagne. The best known are Ruinart, Deutz, Bollinger, Roederer, Moët and Chandon. Each brand has its own specificity and you will probably prefer one more than the other. If you want a cheaper champagne, choose champagnes from harvesting producers, they have less volume but are just as excellent. For example, try the experience with our Champagne Veuve Doussot small producer of high quality!

What is the difference between sparkling wine, crémant and champagne?

They are all sparkling. Crémants belong to the sparkling wine category, and are made exactly the same way as champagnes, so what makes them different? Their image, of course and the region of production.

Indeed, French Champagne can only be called Champagne if all production is done in Champagne, from harvest to vinification. Crémants, also listed as sparkling, are produced in the same way but they are produced in another region such as Alsace, Bourgogne, or the Loire. The Crémant d’Alsace from the Eblin estate, for example, is just as good as a Champagne, fresh and elegant, it will charm you to celebrate an event and at an affordable price! A lot of French people drink Crémant too, it is a big part of French Art of living!

You are probably wondering if it is not better to have a good Crémant rather than a bad Champagne? Indeed, Champagne is always a little more expensive than Crémant, but is it always better? The answer is: it all depends on which champagne are we talking about or which crémant are we talking about. 

In order to choose your Champagne it is essential that you figure out what you like, what are your taste. As a matter of fact, an excellent champagne for you could be a bad one for someone else and vice versa. 

Once you have discovered your preference, you will be able to tell the difference between the grape varieties present in Champagne. Only three grape varieties are authorized in the Champagne region: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. For a round and gourmet champagne, choose a champagne predominantly Pinot Meunier. For a racy, powerful and structured champagne, choose Pinot Noir. For a fresh, elegant and voluptuous champagne, choose a Champagne with Chardonnay dominant.

We hope you liked reading this guide to Champagne. If you missed the previous articles on this topic, here is part 1 and part 2.

If you need more information, please feel free to contact us, we love to hear from you !

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