It took me a few months after Modena Champagne Experience to be able to write anything beyond the obvious about this sparkling event. It was not due to any lack of time or inspiration; truth be told, once there and after two days of tasting, I realized I knew very little about Champagne despite my many tastings which, however, are just a handful when compared to the several thousands wine labels I had tasted when I wrote my first timid wine stories.
Therefore, I went back to the books with some excellent bottles to support my endeavors! All the bubbles in a bottle of Champagne are not enough to represent the complexity of its area of origin, so let’s start from the territory!
There are about 84,757 acres of vineyards, divided in 280,000 parcels or little more. Seventeen are the Villages which can boast the rank of Grand Cru, and 42 the Premier Cru.
Moreover, Champagne is divided into 4 great regions, each one with its own peculiarities and vocation:
- Montagne de Reims
- Côte des Blancs and Côte de Sézanne
- Vallée de la Marne
- Côte des Bar
I guess I have confused you more than enough just with these few facts! But mind it, I have only just begun!
With a predominantly oceanic climate and some continental influences, cool temperatures, and little variation from one season to the next, in Champagne the vines are geographically at the northernmost limits of their cold tolerance, with an average annual temperature in Reims and Epernay of only 50°F. The average annual hours of sunshine in Champagne are just 1,650 compared to 2,069 in Bordeaux and 1,910 in Burgundy. These pedoclimatic characteristics guarantee to the region an almost ideal rainfall; rainfall every year is constant, thanks to the oceanic influence, but moderate, due to continental characteristics. In short, conditions here are ideal for the production of quality grapes, with those characteristics of freshness and crispness that Champagne requires.
Although the Appellation is one and has abundant and very restrictive laws on both the cultivation of vineyards and the production of wine, Vigneron and Chef de cave are left with great freedom in creating Champagne according to their own style and idea. The diversity of crus, plots, vineyards, vintages, blends, aging times and much more, produce a richness that allows each of us to choose the Champagne that best suits our personal taste.
After bottling and tirage, Champagne must be aged in cellar for at least fifteen months, but more often from two to three years for a non-vintage wine, which becomes at least three years, but usually from five to ten years and more for a vintage wine. In any case, from half bottle to Jeroboam, the maximum size allowed, Champagne is must be sold in the bottle in which it was made.
These, and many other news and curiosities, can be found on the beautiful website https://www.champagne.fr/it/homepage.
Champagne, as opposed to still wines, involves also hearing in the tasting. The first stimulus in fact that comes to our senses is when the bottle is opened, whether it is with a discreet hissing sound as required of the expert sommelier, or with a loud pop in a joyful celebrations, up to the extreme and festive opening, with a general shower, as it happens from the podium of Formula 1. Champagne fills the glasses with the crackling of bubbles and their music, initially more intense and gradually more discreet when the foam reaches the surface.
Bubbles, which are microscopic and always emerge from the same points called “nucleation sites”, generating chains at the variable rate of 10-20 bubbles per second, are responsible for the “caressing tactility, which offers the impalpable comfort of a cloud” (cit. Fernando Pardini – Slow Wine) and amplify the nasal perception with the bursting on the surface which causes the outburst of small drops of wine containing aromatic molecules.
Convivial and vibrant for an aperitif among friends, celebratory in occasion of a birthday, a victory, or an important achievement, romantic for a dinner for two, solemn for a graduation, a wedding or any other celebration, nothing like Champagne and its bubbles unites people in joy.
And indeed, it was a moment of great joy and sharing Excellence inc was able to organize in Modena with this edition of Champagne Experience. The first event in presence after a long, long time, and starting over with quality Champagne was a true caress to the heart and soul. With 65 importers, 121 Maisons and over 600 labels, there was enough for all preferences, from the historic and most famous Maison to small producers of a few thousand bottles! An extraordinary selection with a very high average quality that brought the entire Champagne at the fair, with no exclusion! Countless tastings, so many emotions, a great joyful party, and rivers of quality sparkles! Many French producers were present during the event, and added further luster and significance with their stories and the passion in their eyes! Priceless moments of training and learning around this incredible wine!
We really hope that all the positive energy of this event will resume to be a constant in our lives, with the palpable joy of endless toasts!
My favorites? As always it will remain a secret, because as always it is truly impossible to choose between so many amazing bottles! But as always, I will tell you just one, because it was particularly impressive, and stood out with its peculiarities! It is Quentin Beaufort, fresh, sharp, with lots of pinot noir and little lees. I liked it especially because you could appreciate the characteristics of the grape that remain present in a sip that takes the breath away! All the others can be found in the slide show! Cheers!