Champagne can contain up to three different grapes: Chardonnay, and the red grapes Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Vintage Champagnes are only produced in the very best years; they are always more expensive than non-vintage Champagnes, but they are not always better tasting. Most Champagnes are the supreme expression of the Champagne blender's art, assembled from numerous vintages, multiple grape types and various selected vineyards within the Champagne district, then carefully hand made and fermented in the bottle. By making these blends, the Champagne winemakers are able to create a consistent ''house'' style and, indeed, each Champagne producer has its own distinct style.
Finally, there are several important terms you will encounter on a Champagne label that tell you much about the contents. From dry to sweet, Champagnes are labeled Brut Absolut, Brut, Extra-Dry, Sec, Demi-Sec and Doux. Blanc de Blanc Champagne bottlings are made entirely from Chardonnay grapes and tend to be lighter and more delicate in style. Blanc de Noirs Champagnes are made from red grapes and tend to be fuller bodied and richer tasting; Rose Champagnes are dark pink in color and frequently intensely flavored.
Champagne Wine Tip:
In Champagne, the name and reputation of the producer tells you more about the wine than any other single factor. Champagnes combine the complexities of fine grapes grown in some of the best vineyards in France with the intricate subtleties of yeast and sometimes even oak elements plus the experience of tongue-tickling delight from pinpoint bubbles and effervescence to create one of the most sensual taste experiences in the world!
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