learn to talk champagne

vocabulary

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A

aoc

aoc is the abbreviation of appellation d’origine controlée. when a wine or another product is rewarded with an aoc in France, this means that the product is made observing a number of rules. in Champagne these rules include yield, minimum content of alcohol, press yields and aging amongst others. the target is to obtain and guaranty a wine of quality. the champagne label does not mention the aoc as the name “champagne” means the same thing. champagne became one of the first aoc’s in 1936.

Assemblage

a wine composed of several base wines.

 

B

Blanc de Blancs

a champagne made of 100% white grapes like Chardonnays.

Blanc de Noirs

a champagne made of 100% black grapes like Pinot Noir og Pinot Meunier.

Brut

a dry champagne dosed with less than 12 grammes of sugar per liter.

brut nature

a super dry champagne without dosage. also known as dosage zéro and non dosé.

 

C

Calcaire, craie, marne

the sub-surface of the soils of Champagne contain high amounts of calcium of the types of limestone, chalk and marl. This particular composition helps drain the soils, constitutes a reservoir of water and contributes to the development of the mineral character of the wines.

Cépage

the grape variety, mainly Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier but also the more rare and historical varieties of Petit Meslier, Arbane, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris.

Champagne, la

the geographical region of Champagne, approximately 150 kilometres east of Paris. The vineyards cover an area of 34.000 hectares which is only a smaller part of the total area of Champagne.

Champagne, le

the sparkling wine made in the region of Champagne according to the champagne method.

Chardonnay

white grapes, mainly grown in the region of Côte des Blancs and Montagne de Reims. this type is also grown in Burgundy and overseas regions like Chile, South-Africa and Australia.

Clos

  1. a vineyard entirely and historically closed in by walls.

  2. a champagne made by grapes from a clos.

Comité Champagne

the institution that controls the good usage of the rules in the appellation of Champagne, performs research on winegrowing, collect numbers for statistics and watch over the usage of the word champagne in France and abroad amongst many varied tasks. the precidency is shared between winegrowers and champagne houses. known previously as CIVC.

Commune

a winegrowing village and its vineyards.

Coopérative

shared facilities of presses, sometimes vinification, caves and marketing as well.

Côte des Bar

situated in the Aube department, closer to Burgundy than to the rest of Champagne. the main grape variety is the Pinot Noir.
villages like: Celles-sur-Ource, Essoyes, les Riceys and Urville.

Côte des Blancs

situated south of Epernay where mainly Chardonnay grapes are grown.
villages like: Avize, Cramant, le Mesnil. Oger and Vertus.

Coupe

  1. a glass of champagne served (any type of glass)

  2. a low and flat glass for champagne

Cru

the wines from a certain village/commune.

Cuvée

  1. the best part of the freshly pressed must which is not mixed with the lesser qualities of la taille and la rebêche.

  2. an expression that may be part of the name of a champagne, in this case often a prestige bottle, for instance cuvée Louise.

 

D

Demi-sec

a sweeter champagne style with 32 - 50 grammes of sugar/liter.


Dégorgement

the process where a bouchon of sediments is expulsed by the pressure in the bottle in the process of disgorgement.


Domaine

the vineyards and buildings of a certain brand of wine.


Dosage

the level of sweetness in a champagne. it ranges from the sweet doux through the dry brut to the non-dosed brut nature.

doux

the sweetest style that you may find in Champagne as this dosage of more than 50 grammes of sugar/liter it is quite rare.

 

E

égrappage

the process of separating the grapes from the stems.

extra brut

a rather dry champagne style with a dosage between 0 and 6 grammes of sugar/liter.

extra dry

a slightly sweeter style than brut with a dosage between 12 and 17 grammes of sugar/liter.

exploitation

the vineyards of a domaine.

 

F

Flûte

a tall and slender glass to sip champagne.

 

L

Lieu-dit

the ancient name of a piece of land in a village/commune.

 

M

Maison de champagne

a producer who buys grapes from winegrowers and composes champagnes with different crus.

Millésime

a champagne made of grapes from one year only.

Montagne de Reims

the hilly plateau between Reims and Èpernay, height of approximately 200 ms, length of approximately 25 kms. the main grape variety is the Pinot Noir.
villages like: Ambonnay, Bouzy, Rilly-la-Montagne, Verzy and Verzenay.

Mousse

a mass of tiny bubbles that forms on the top of a glass of champagne along the side of the glass.

 

N

Négoce, négociant

producers who buy grapes and still wines.


O

Oenologue

person educated in vinification, chemistry of wines and tasting.


P

Packaging

the visual presentation of a bottle: label, capsule, carton et cetera.

Parcelle

a commune has several lieu-dits, each of which are divided in several plots.
Champagne has approximately 275.000 plots, a record in France.

Parcellaire

a champagne made with grapes from one plot only.


pied

literally foot, but in this context the word refers to the vine plant itself.

Pinot Meunier

black grapes, grown only in Champagne, mainly in the Vallée de la Marne region.

Pinot Noir

black grapes, grown mainly in the Montagne de Reims and Côte des Bar. also grown in Alsace, Burgundy and other places.

poignettage

after several years of aging in the cellars, the yeast sediments from the second alcoholic fermentation are still inside the champagne bottle. during this process, the bottle is turned upside down and shaken. this spreads the sediments in the bottle. they will eventually be gathered in the bottleneck during the process of remuage (read further under this headword).

Producteur de champagne

a producer of champagne, not necessarily a winegrower.

 

R

Récoltant-manipulant

a person who grows grapes and makes champagne with them.

Récoltant-coopérateur

a person who grows grapes to sell or make wine with them together with other winegrowers in a cooperative.

Remuage

the process where the bottle through a period is turned gradually around itself while being tipped until it is almost upside down. during this process, the sediments of yeast collect in the neck of the bottle to be expulsed in the process of disgorging.

 

S

Sec

a champagne that is sweetened with 17-32 grammes of sugar/l.

Sol

the soil and whatever is in it.

sur pointe

position where the bottle is upside down and awaits the process of disgorgement.


T

Terroir

the soil, the underground, the climate and the work methods.


V

Vallée de la Marne

the area west of Épernay along the Marne river. the main grape variety is the Pinot Meunier.
villages like: Aÿ, Champillon, Damery, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ and Oeuilly 

Vieilles vignes

the comité champagne (civc) allows the name “vieilles vignes” (old vines) for plots that are minimum 35 years old. at Tange-Gérard, we define our vines as old from the age of 50 years and more.

Vigneron(ne)

person - male and female - who grows grapes in vineyards.

Vignoble

the plots of one winegrower, champagnehouse, village or region.

Vin de réserve

older wines that are used to spice up the wines of the year. specific for the production in Champagne.

Vin tranquille

wine without bubbles (before their 2nd alcoholic fermentation).

Vinificateur

the person who makes wine from the must.

Vinification

the transformation of must into wine.

viticul-teur (trice)

person - male and female - who grows grapes and makes wine from them.