Author photos taken by Robert Abrams in Paris, France.



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Saturday, May 25, 2013

WHAT IS CHAMPAGNE?

Champagne is a sparkling wine made from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France. Primary grapes are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier.  What sets Champagne apart from other wines is it is fermented twice, second time in the bottle for carbonation. Strict rules are followed to be able to use the Champagne name. If not followed, the label will read 'sparkling wine', no reference to Champagne. However many get around it by using the term méthode traditionnelle when referring to it as Champagne. 

I remember while writing MIDNIGHT IN MOSCOW (4th novel in my 'Rachel O'Neill Series') I did some research on Scotch Whisky and Champagne (Rachel drinks Champagne, Maxim drinks Scotch). Found the following list of champagnes tonite, was wondering how far down the list my favorite would appear. Is yours on this one?  

TOP TEN PRESTIGIOUS CHAMPAGNES


1. 1893 Veuve Clicquo – only known bottle in existence – (Grand Marque Champagne house) – on display in Reims, France. Not for sale, priceless.

2. 1825 Perrier-Jouet – oldest know drinkable bottle of champagne found, fizz gone but still a drinkable wine.

3. 1820 Juglar cuvee – selling for $62,000 each.

4. 1907 Hiedsieck Diamant Bleu cuvee – 2000 bottles discovered in the Baltic on a shipwreck that was bound for Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. Averaging $3,700 a bottle after discovered.

5. 1990 Louis Roederer, Cristal Brut – One bottle sold for $18,800.

6. 1928 Krug – described by the head of Sotheby’s Wine Department as one of the greatest champagnes ever made. One bottle auctioned off in Hong Kong for $21,200.

7. Perrier-Joet Belle Epoque – 12-bottle personalized sets sold for $50,000. Joet is pronounced … “zhew-ette”, by the way, same as the Moet in Moet and Chandon.

8. Krug Clos d’Ambonnay – one of the most exclusive champagne houses. Production limited to 3000 bottles, price tag of $2500 each.

9. Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon White Gold – 3-litre bottle - $11,000 per bottle.

10. Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill - Speaks for itself, produced in honor of Churchill in 1984. Retail Price $215.


Interesting that all Champagnes come from France, however, other winemakers outside the region may use the designation if they follow the rules of secondary fermentation as I mentioned above ... you can read more about it on the following link  . . . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champagne . . . and by the way, all sparkling wines are not champagne.  I detest those sugary Asti sparkling wines that are passed off as Champagne. YUK!


TOP 10 INEXPENSIVE CHAMPAGNES ... yayyyyy, mine are on here:

1. Roederer Estate Brut, Anderson Valley (Approx. $20)  I'm going to try this next.

2. Mumm Napa Brut Prestige, Napa Valley (Approx. $20)
3. Non Vintage Barefoot Bubbly California Premium Extra Dry (Approx. $9)
4. Argyle 2000 Brut (Approx. $19)
5. Korbel Sparkling Natural Sparkling Wine ($12.99)
6. Gruet Brut Blanc de Blancs - New Mexico (Approx. $20)
7. Martini & Rossi Prosecco (Approx. $12.99)
8. Freixenet Brut Nature – Spain (Approx. $9)
9. Veuve Clicquot Non Vintage Brut Yellow Label (Approx. $45)
10. Cook's Grand Reserve California Champagne (Approx. $5)

I like Freixenet Brut and Korbel Brut ... but I think I'll try Roederer Brut next time. If I'm right, that just happens to be the maiden name of my friend Marianne ... she's of French lineage.

Oh, forgot to mention I prefer a Brut Champagne.

Champagne's sweetness is varied by the amount of sugar added after the second fermentation, determining the label's level of sweetness: 
Extra-Brut or Brut-Naturale 0-6 gram of sugar per liter (the driest of the dry, unsweetened)
Brut less than 15 gram of sugar per liter (dry, this is the typical style of Champagne with no sweetness)
Extra-Dry 12-20 gram of sugar per liter (still dry with a hint of sweetness or slightly sweet)
Sec 17-35 gram of sugar per liter (medium sweet)
Demi-Sec 33-55 gram of sugar per liter (sweet)
Doux more than 55 gram of sugar per liter (Sweetest, very rare and is considered as dessert wine)

Since I'm moving to England in the next couple years, I need to familiarize myself with this list.

TEN OF MOST ECONOMICAL CHAMPAGNES in England

Canard-Duchêne Brut
Tesco Finest Rose Champagne Brut
Lanson Black Label Brut
Blanc de Blancs Brut
Besserat de Bellefon Cuvee
Duval-Leroy Premier Cru 
Pierre Darcys Champagne Brut
Nicolas Feuillatte NV 
Morrisons Best Champagne
Gosset Grande Reserve Brut

I love lists!   lol lol   Hope you do too. 

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  2. Just trying this for effect....Love the column......I am a...'RODIER", and my Grandfather was from Paris, France....so I guess I come by my love of the bubbly, quite naturally. OK, for now, I am just so happy that I found your Blog...I am rather tech-challenged, so this is a big deal for me....Keep up the good work;the fantastic writing and the sharing that you do so well with good info and wit!!

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