The winemaking process

your training programme:
Enthusiasts
3. The winemaking process

Is pressing regulated?

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On arrival at the pressing centre,
the grapes are weighed
and recorded in a logbook.

Juice extraction is restricted
in order to retain only the best juices.

 

A 4,000kg marc (capacity of a traditional press)
is not allowed to yield more than a certain volume of juice; what volume is this?

 

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Place the correct quantity of juice into the tank.


Pressing takes place

in approved centres.

 

The juice is separated into fractions:

the first juice extracted is known as the “cuvée”(20.50 hl); the second pressing is called the “taille” (5 hl).

 

The cuvée produces wines with great finesse,

asubtle aromas, a refreshing palate and good ageing potential.

 

The taille produces intensely aromatic wines,

which are fruitier when young but less age-worthy.

How is the juice prepared for the winemaking process?

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After pressing, the musts are treated with sulphites
to prevent their oxidation and decanted in order to clarify them.

 

After 12 to 24 hours, the clear juices,
free of sediment (“bourbes”),
are drawn off and transferred to the “cuverie” (fermenting room),
to begin the first stages of fermentation.

What happens during fermentation?

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In order for the juice to become Champagne,
a number of fermentation processes
take place.

Fermentation alcoolique

After clarification, the grape musts may also be chaptalised to produce a wine with a maximum alcohol level of 11 % by the end of fermentation.

Yeasts are added to convert the sugar contained in the juice into alcohol, carbon dioxide, superior alcohols and esters.

Following the alcoholic fermentation, the wines are clarified again. These still clear wines (“vins clairs”) can be used for the next stages of winemaking or set aside to be used in future blends.

Fermentation malolactique

After the alcoholic fermentation, the winemaker may decide to allow malolactic fermentation, which is done using bacteria belonging to the speciesOenococcus.This reduces and softens the wine’s acidity

and alters its sensory profile, introducing milky and brioche notes.

Fermentation en bouteille

In order to kick start this fermentation, the winemaker adds to the wine a bottling liqueur (“liqueur de tirage”), composed of yeasts and 20-24 grams per litre of sugar, in order to produce a pressure by the end of fermentation of up to 5-6 atm.

During this fermentation process, the yeasts consume the sugar, transforming it to alcohol and carbon dioxide and releasing esters and other superior alcohols that contribute to the wine’s sensory profile.

What happens during blending (assemblage)?

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Most Champagne wines are produced by blending
different crus (villages),
the three main Champagne grape varieties
(chardonnay, pinot noir and meunier)
and a proportion of “reserve”
wines from previous harvests.

Move 3 wines into each tank to create the desired blend.


There are a huge diversity of blends;
however the most common style for a Champagne is
non-vintage brut.

What stages does Champagne go through before it is released for sale?

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The bottles undergo a
long maturation period
in the producer’s cellars, stored away from light.

From the date of bottling,
non-vintage wines are required
by law to spend a minimum of 15 months
in the producer’s cellars and vintage wines
at least 3 years.

During the second fermentation, the wine becomes sparkling.

There are still a number of stages to go through
before the wine can be sold:

Riddling
(remuage) to remove the sediment left
by the second fermentation.

This involves rotating
the bottle by small increments,
clockwise and anti-clockwise,
then tilting the bottle neck-down
to draw the sediment into the neck.

This may be done manually
or mechanically.

Disgorgement
(dégorgement) involves removing the deposit
that riddling has brought up to the neck of the bottle.

This may be done manually
or mechanically.

Automated riddling involves dipping the neck of the bottle
in a refrigerating solution at -27°C, forming an ice cube that traps the sediment.
The frozen plug is then ejected under pressure when the bottle is opened,
with minimum loss of wine and pressure.

Dosage
involves the addition of a small quantity of “dosage liqueur”,
also known as”liqueur d’expédition”,
a mixture of cane sugar and wine that will determine
the style of the Champagne: brut, demi-sec, etc.

1.

Did you know?

A professional remueur (bottle turner) can handle roughly 40,000 bottles a day.

 

40000 bouteilles


What do packaging and labelling involve?

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Labelling
is the last stage before
the bottle leaves the Champagne cellars.

The cork and wire cage (“muselet”)
are wrapped in foil (“coiffe”),
which extends down the neck of the bottle
to the neck label.

A label is placed on the front of the bottle,
and sometimes on the back too, listing mandatory information
along with other facts for the consumer.

Cork
stopper

Wire cage

Foil
wrapping

Neck label

Label

1.

Did you know?

Champagne bottles are produced in accordance with strict specifications as they must be capable of withstanding high pressure and repeated handling.

The pressure inside the bottle rises to 56 bars (5.09 to 6.11 kg/cm2), equivalent to the pressure of a lorry tyre.

 

Baromètre

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