Grape Expectations: Champagne

Champagne – so famous for its wine that not everybody realises it is also a place! The Champagne region, located in the northeast of France around the town of Épernay. Wines labelled as Champagne must be grown here, and produced from specified grape varieties – most importantly Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Champagne is also made in a prescribed manner: a base wine is created, which is then bottled along with a mix of sugar and yeast. This prompts a second fermentation in the bottle. The resultant carbon dioxide is trapped, giving us bubbles, and the leftover yeast contributes the characteristic brioche flavours. Most Champagne is made from a blend of years – the marginal climate in the region necessitating this insurance policy – but in particularly favourable conditions vintage Champagne is produced.

It will come as no surprise to many of you that value for money in Champagne is getting harder to come by. While the big houses undoubtedly produce excellent wine – Taittinger and Bollinger are two personal favourites – it is the grower Champagne producers that are really exciting today.  So, for your next special occasion, why not pick a bottle of Champagne whose name you don’t recognise? You may be pleasantly surprised!

Recommendation: Champagne Arnaud Tabourin Brut Tradition NV  – A real favourite on the OWC list, this fantastic Champagne is produced by the fourth generation of the Tabourin family. A structured Pinot Noir led Champagne with notes of orchard fruits and berries.

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