The combination of sugar and an increase in temperature inside wine bottles produced carbon dioxide bubbles, a discovery that would eventually form the foundation of French wine makers' "method champenoise"
The wine made from grapes in this area have a natural tendency to sparkle, but in the late 17th century Dom Perignon, cellar at the Benedictine abbey of Hautvillers near Épernay, discovered discovered that by blending grapes from different vineyards and mixing with wines from different harvests, the overall quality and uniformity improved and became more consistent in character. Perignon was the first to initiate the practice of aging, conserving and transporting champagne in bottles, and he is credited with being the first vintner to use corks to seal the wines of the thicker, English-made glass bottles that held up better under pressure.
Christopher Merret´s mention came more than 20 years prior to when Dom Pérignon had allegedly announced his discovery by famously exclaiming, “Come quickly, I am drinking Stars!” Although Pérignon is still widely viewed as the father of Champagne, historians now admit it is more likely he helped perfect the sparkling winemaking process that has solidified France’s position as Champagne’s commercial and cultural epicenter.
The technological advancements of the Industrial Revolution sped up the modernization of the sparkling wine industry during the mid-18th century including more sophisticated corking machines provided Champagne houses with greater control over the production and quality of sparkling wine.
Notable contributors to the popularization of Champagne and the improvement of sparkling wine production during this period were French pharmacist André François, French scientist Jean-Antoine Chaptal and Madame Clicquot of the Champagne house Veuve Clicquot.
While Chaptal and François expanded scientific knowledge on the fermentation and measurement process, Madame Clicquot is credited with introducing riddling or the method of using pressure to eject sediment from wine bottles. However, without the coal-fired glass making practices from Great Britain where the glass could be made thicker and thus able to withstand the pressure of the second fermentation, Champagne could never have been bottled.
Body: Described as, powerful, structured and intense.
Such Champagne wines are usually made with a predominance of Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier, two grape varieties which create distinctive aromas and give the wine depth, vinosity, power and vigor. These are muscular Champagne wines, enjoyable for theirs scents of violets, spices, truffles, fresh butter, Virginia tobacco, ripe wheat and biscuit pastry.
Heart: Described as, generous, warm and soft.
These wines are fresh, smooth and always well-balanced. They are usually dominated by Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier, but they can be Rose or Demi-sec. Their colors range from golden yellow through to deep pink. On the nose, red petals, honey, peaches, pears in cinnamon, candied oranges and gingerbread may come to mind. On the palate we appreciate their round and soft character.
Spirit: Described as, light, vivacious and delicate.
Invariably they are brut or Blanc de Blancs Champagne wines with a preponderance of Chardonnay. As they mature and reach their optimum they develop a certain raciness. Champagne wines with Spirit are lively, brilliant, clear-cut, often with a grey-yellow color. Their bubbles are light, quick to form, sprightly with a lovely delicate appearance. We are reminded of fresh fruit, in particular citrus and exotic fruit, mint and fresh almonds. A true jewel with a light golden color and fine necklace of bubbles.
Soul: Described as, mature, complex and rich.
The rarest vintages, the most complete wines and collectible Special Cuvées. Inevitably these are mature wines, often from exceptional years. The extremely fine bubbles and their old gold, even amber like appearance inspires an almost religious awe in many drinkers.