The Champagne lesson with La Marne

The grape-growing area of the Champagne appellation is located  approximately 90 miles north-east of Paris. Not more than 75,000 acres  are actively used for grape growing...

The grape-growing area of the Champagne appellation is located approximately 90 miles north-east of Paris. Not more than 75,000 acres are actively used for grape growing. The important thing to remember is that, while the method of Champagne production may be duplicated, the terroir is unique, original, and impossible to replicate. The terroirTerroir refers to all aspects of climate, of the soil and the length of the growing season. Each vineyard is said to have its own terroir. Champagne vineyards are concentrated mainly around Epernay and Reims in the Marne department. Grape-growing areas in Marne department

La Montagne de Reims: Where the vineyards snake along the slopes throughout a National Regional Park. La Vall�e de la Marne: The Marne Valley is the largest grape-growing district. La C�te des Blancs: Located south of Epernay. This region is famous for producing the finest Chardonnay grapes. The grapes - Grape VarietiesOnly three grape varieties are permitted in the production of Champagne:Pinot NoirA black grape variety with white juice, grown mainly on the slopes of the Montagne de Reims that imparts red fruit aromas and gives depth and body. MeunierA black grape variety with white juice. It is grown mainly in the Vall�e de la Marne and is characterised by its suppleness and spiciness. It gives Champagne roundness and fragrance.ChardonnayA white grape variety mostly planted in the C�te des Blancs. It provides the wines with their finesse and mineral backbone.  Treating Champagne wellChillingChilling Champagne in the freezer will dumb down the aromas and flavours, so plan ahead and refrigerate or chill more rapidly with an ice bucket.Ice bucketPlunge the bottle into a mixture of water and ice and it should reach the right temperature in 15-20 minutes.FridgeRefrigerate for three or four hours before serving. Providing that the temperature remains constant you can safely store Champagne in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Champagne is best drunk chilled but never iced (8�C-10�C.)  OpeningRemove the wire muzzle. Holding the base of the bottle with one hand, grasp the cork in the palm of your other hand and twist the bottle. The cork will come out of its own accord. Only a proper champagne stopper will stop the wine losing its sparkle and a stopped wine should be consumed within 24 hours of opening. ServingThe perfect glass is the tulip-shaped, the flute is good. The champagne saucer should be avoided as the aromas and bubbles are quickly lost to the air. It is best for the champagne if the glasses are simply rinsed (without using soap) in warm water and left upside down to dry.  TastingFill a clean tulip-shaped glass to half full. This makes it easier to swirl the wine around the glass releasing more aromas and flavours.First, assess the visual aspect of the wine. Now, look at the colour. As a general rule the older the wine the more golden it becomes. Once the initial effervescence has subsided, bring the glass to your nose. Inhale slowly, at length and then inhale again. Finally, take a drink. Roll it around in your mouth, sensing not only its taste but also its texture and weight (mouthfeel). As the moment of tasting becomes swallowing, try to remember the imprint of the wine on your palate. The aftertaste (finish) is an indication of quality – the longer the finish the better the wineIf champagne is unique, there are enough champagnes for every moment of your life.COMITE DEPARTEMENTALDU TOURISME DE LA MARNE13 bis, rue Carnot - BP 7451006 CHALONS-EN-CHAMPAGNE CEDEXTel: 03 26 68 37 52 - Fax : 03 26 68 46 45email: cdt51@tourisme-en-champagne.com www.tourisme-en-champagne.com