Champagne and the region of Champagne

13 Nov 2014

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Champagne

REGION OF CHAMPAGNE

Champagne is a region to the East of the Ile-de-France. It covers the Aube, Marne, and Haute-Marne departments. Reims -- the "City of Coronations" -- is the capital of the region.

First and foremost, the region is known for its vineyard. The Champagne appellation vineyard covers more than 33 000 hectares in the Aisne and Seine-et-Marne departments.

It is here that the illustrious drink Champagne, or "Champagne wine" is produced, a symbol of festivities and luxury with an international reputation.The renown of Champagne tends to overshadow the region's gastronomy, which nonetheless benefits from the fertile terroir and includes a wide range of regional specialties.
The region's rivers are home to pike, bream, eel, trout, shad, and crayfish, which are used in several traditional dishes and can be braised, poached, fried or cooked in a "matelote" (a type of fish stew), with or without Champagne. Champagne style stuffed pike, fried gudgeon, and Marne style matelote are all popular dishes. Charcuterie is also a not to be missed part of local gastronomy. Troyes chitterling sausages are the star product, and are known all over France. Reims ham, white sausage, Troyes cervelas (cooked sausage), smoked sheep's tongue, and pigs' trotters are also specialty products.

THE CHAMPAGNE

Champagne is one of the regions of France which produces a highly refined sparkling wine with world renown.
The 3 main grape varieties used in Champagne production are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Harvest takes place around the end of September and the grapes are handpicked.

The pressed clear juice is traditionally tanked and undergoes an initial alcoholic fermentation. Once the wine is ready, the cuvée is created by blending different still wines produced in the Champagne Appellation. Different years, grape varieties and vineyards can be blended in order to create a quality wine, year in year out, in a style that is unique to each Champagne house. Once the famous “liqueur de tirage” (sugar and yeast) has been added, the bottles are hermetically sealed, laid down horizontally in a cellar and undergo a second fermentation producing the bubbles that are so sought after.

The bottles are stored horizontally for a minimum of 15 months or 3 years for vintage Champagne: This is when the bubbles develop. Other processes allow for the extraction of yeast deposits and the addition (just before the final cork stopper is inserted) of a “liqueur de dosage” made up of wine and sugar which will result in dry or not so dry Champagne. Depending on the amount of sugar added, the Champagne will be Ultra brut, Brut, Dry, Medium or Sweet.
Champagne was given AOC status in 1936. As a result, it is subject to very stringent testing and trademark protection, ensuring that its quality and prestige are maintained.

Champagne is synonymous with special occasions, and is traditionally opened to celebrate an event. It is also widely enjoyed as an aperitif, either alone or as a "kir royal", when a fruit liqueur or cream is added. It can also be served with dessert if it is medium or sweet. Champagne can "Blanc de Blancs" (from Chardonnay alone), vintage or special cuvée; there is a bottle to suit every occasion. Nowadays, both cuisine and pastry chefs use champagne in recipes to give a distinctive flavor to dishes and desserts: sorbets, mousses, sabayons and sauces, etc...

 

Institut des Hautes Etudes du Goût, de la Gastronomie et des des Arts de la Table

  • Phone: +33 6 60 46 40 81
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