The making process
After the harvest (September), and the pressuring of the grapes, each wine maker or house of champagne will bring the juice (called “must”) to their vat-house.
The juice is separated according to the 3 sorts of grapes as well as according to the “crus”. The first alcoholic fermentation takes several days. Then yeast and sugar are added so that, because of the yeast, the sugar turns into alcohol and carbon dioxide. But, because vats are open, carbon dioxide escapes and the wines are still at the stage.
Then comes an important step: the blending. The cellar master needs to blend the wines together to create the future champagne. It is important to succeed in this step becauseany champagne, except for vintages, must be the same from one year to another. Each champagne wine has its own what is called “typicité” (uniqueness), especially the prestigious houses of champagne. So, to keep constant taste and quality, champagne makers are allowed to keep some wines of the former years (3 years maximum)!
After the blending, another liqueur made of yeast and sugar will be added and then the wine will be bottled.
The bottles will age in the cellars, and during the first week a second alcoholic fermentation will happened. But this time the bottles are sealed with a cap so the carbon dioxide cannot escape which will create the bubbles!
A sediment made of dead yeast will stay inside during the aging; it is very important to keep it in the bottle because itwill give all the perfumes and aromas to the wine. The aging lasts 15 month minimum and even up to 10 years for the best champagnes. When aging is over, the sediment needs to be extracted. This will be the riddling and disgorging process.
During the aging process the bottleslie horizontal (sur latte). Therefore the sediment lies against the side of the bottle. The bottles need to be turned over so that little by little the sediment falls into the neck. This is the riddling which nowadays is almost always mechanical. The machine used to that purpose is called “gyropalette”. However, for big bottles and for prestigious cuvees, the riddling is still manual. Oneriddler can turn more than 45 000 bottles a day!
While the sediment is in the neck it can be extracted. This is the disgorging process. They use a freezing solution so that when they open the bottle an icecube will extract the sediment. They fill in the bottle with a liqueur made of wine and sugar and the quantity of sugar will say if it is a brut, dry, semi dry or sweet champagne. A few months later the bottle will be ready for sale.
And then, all that is left to do is to enjoy it!