Appearance: A term that is used to express whether a wine is brilliant (crystal clear), cloudy or contains sediment.
Aroma: The fragrance or smell from wine that has its origin in the grape. This term is in contrast with ‘bouquet’, which has its origin in the aging or other processing methods.
Atmosphere: A unit of measure for the pressure inside a bottle of champagne or sparking wine. One Atmosphere equals about 100 kilopascals of pressure – there are about 620 kilopascals (6 atmosphers)of pressure in a typical champagne bottle
Blanc de Blancs: Champagne made from white grapes. A sparkling wine or champagne made exclusively from white (usually Chardonnay or Pinot Blanc) grapes. Blanc de Blancs is typically light, fruity, creamy and elegant.
Blanc de Noirs: Champagne made from black grapes. A sparkling white wine or champagne made from black (Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier) grapes. Blanc de noir is punch and full-bodied; much less elegant than Blanc de Blancs.
Bouquet: The fragrance or smell from wine that has its origin in the aging or other processing methods. The bouquet comes from long aging of the wine in contact with the yeast; the same yeast that has changed the wine from ‘still’ to ‘sparkling.’
Brut: The name used to describe a champagne that has between 8 – 12 g per litre of residual sugar added after the second fermentation process. 12 g / litre is the maximum permissible amount of sugar that can be added.
Brut Nature (or Brut Zéro): Champagne with less than 3 g of sugar added per litre. This is the driest of the champagnes.
Champagne: A type of sparkling wine that is produced within the limits of the Champagne region of northeast France. In Europe, it is illegal to use the name ‘Champagne’ for sparkling wines not produced in the champagne region, and most other countries in the also limit the use of the term.
Chardonnay: One of three grape varietals used in Champagne. It is used in combination with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, and may be used on its own to produce Blanc de Blancs; the chardonnay gives the wine elegance.
Classification: the classification of Champagne is broken down based on what village the vineyards are located in.(1) A percentile system known as the Échelle des Crus (“ladder of growth”) acts as a pro-rata system for determining grape prices. Vineyards located in villages with high rates will receive higher prices for their grapes than vineyards located in villages with a lower rating. While theÉchelle des Crus system was originally conceived as a 1-100 point scale, in practice, the lowest rated villages are rated at 80%. Premier crus villages are rated between 90 and 99 percent while the highest rated villages, with 100% ratings are Grand crus. (2)
Cuvee: A blend of wines held in a single tank or large cask that go to make up a specific champagne.Cuvee de Prestige: A champagne producer’s best blend of champagne.
Degorgement: (Also known as Disgorging) The act of removing the frozen plug of ice from a bottle of champagne after the remuage process. This plug contains spent yeast. The process takes place on a bottling line just before adding dosage and the final corking of the finished bottle.
Demi Sec: A semi-sweet champagne with 3.3-5% of residual sugar.
Dosage: A small amount of wine, sometimes sweetened, that is added to each bottle of champagne after degorgement to add balance (sweetness or roundness) and to make up for the liquid volume lost by degorgement.
Extra Brut: A very dry champagne, containing less than 6 g of residual sugar per litre (0.6%), typically between 3 -6g.
Extra Sec: Dry champagne with 1.2-2% residual sugar.
Fermentation: The process by which sugar is transformed into carbon dioxide (CO2) and ethyl alcohol, carried out by yeast growth in grape juice. In champagne, the carbon dioxide bubbles out of the solution and is trapped inside the sealed bottle. Much of the CO2dissolves and becomes a major feature of the finished champagne.
Grand Cru: Villages with the highest rating (100%) on the ‘Echelle des Crus’ (see Classification). Grand Cru villages are: Ambonnay, Avize, Ay, Beaumont-sur-Vesle, Bouzy, Chouilly,Cramant, Louvois, Mailly Champagne, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger, Oiry, Puisieulx, Sillery, Tours-sur-Marne, Verzenay, Verzy
Lees: The deposits of residual or dead yeast and other particles that precipitate after the first fermentation.
(Sur) Lies: A French term that refers to wine that has been held in contact with yeast lees longer than usual in aging and processing. The result is often a wine with a pleasant yeastiness and more complexity than ordinary wine. In general, a longer time on yeast lees results in a higher quality sparkling wine.
Maceration: The process of soaking grape solids in their juice for certain time periods before the juice is fermented. This method is often used for Chardonnay production and for making pink wines from black, blue or red grapes. The pink colour is produced by allowing just enough flavour and red pigment to dissolve into the juice.
Malolactic Fermentation: Malolactic fermentation (malo or MLF) is a biological process using bacteria instead of yeasts. The process converts the harsh malic acid to softer lactic acid. A by product of this process is carbon dioxide, which causes the wine to bubble. Champagnes that don’t undergo MLF can have a very different style to those that do. The non malo champagnes in general are zestier and have a more intense in flavour. Malo champagnes tend to be more buttery and creamier in the mouth. It is said that MLF results in less acidity, more suppleness, refined aromas and a greater stability.
Non-Vintage (NV): A blend of two or more years (current and reserve) champagnes prepared each year in order to produce a consistent style of wine. Non-Vintage champagnes can be drunk as soon as they are bought, but can benefit forma t least 6 months cellaring.
Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir used to produce champagne either in combination with Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes, or on their own to produce Blanc de Noirs. Pinot Noir gives the wine weight. The red skins may also be used to tint the wine to produce rosé champagne.
Pinot Meunier: used to produced champagne in combination with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Pinot Meunier adds softness. The red skins may also be used to tint the wine to produce rosé champagne.
Premier Cru: villages rated between 90 and 99 percent on the percentile scale of the ‘echelle des crus’ (See Classifiaction)
Pupitre: The French name for the hinged, wooden ‘A-Frame’ rack that is used for hand-riddling (remuage) champagne bottles before degorgement.
Remuage (Riddling): A process that settles the yeast sediment (the lees) into the neck of the champagne bottle so that it can be easily removed by degorgement. The bottles are placed on special racks (pupitres), which places the bottles at a 45 degree angle with the cork pointed downwards. The bottles are hand turned a quarter of a turn, every day, and dropped back into the puprites. The drop causes a slight tap, pushing the sediment toward the neck of the bottle. The angle of the bottles is gradually increased, and in approximately 6 to 8 weeks the position of the bottle is pointed straight down with sediment in the neck of the bottle.
RD (Recently Disgorged): R.D. is a registered trademark of Bollinger which stands for récemment dégorgé (“recently disgorged”). Bollinger R.D. spends eight years on its lees and is aged under cork, not crown seal.
Rosé: The French word for pink wine, produced by allowing the red skins of the grapes to come into contact with the juice for a short period of time.
Sec: A French term meaning ‘dry’, or lacking sugar. However, in champagne terms, sec is a medium-sweet champagne with 17-35 grams per litre of residual sugar 1.7-3.5%).
Secondary Fermentation: Any fermentation that takes place after the primary (yeast) fermentation has been completed. A secondary yeast fermentation is used to transform still wine into sparkling wine. Malolactic fermentation is an example of secondary fermentation.
Tirage: The first bottling step, which turns a new wine into champagne. After the tirage, the new champagne is aged on the yeast, then remuage, degorgement and, finally, labelled for sale.
Vintage:The wine or champagne of a single year’s harvest, and is only made in good years. Vintage champagne should be richer and more flavoursome than non-vintage (NV), with extra depth, complexity, character and weight. It will need to mature for at least a decade to taste its very best.