6 Best Types of Champagne You Should Try
Did you know that there are 6 different types of Champagne? Whether you’re a fan of rosé wine or extra dry Champagne, there’s something for every taste. Here are the main Champagne varieties that you can easily find and enjoy.
Types of Champagne
The most important criteria for Champagne is that it must be made according to the official Champagne method and come from the French region named Champagne. Located in the North East of France, this wine-making area of 34,000 hectares is known for its chalky soil and temperate climate.
Champagne can also only be made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Arbane, Pinot Gris, Petit Meslier and Pinot Meunier grapes. Beyond that, there are several different types of Champagne, which each have differing sugar levels.
In 2015, the “Champagne hillsides, houses and cellars” were added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. This recognizes the unique cultural landscape of the five French Champagne départements of Aisne, Aube, Haute-Marne, Marne and Seine-et-Marne.
1. Champagne Brut
The most popular type of Champagne is Brut, which accounts for 78.5% of exports. Brut, which means dry, is a French sparkling wine with 12 grams of sugar or less per litre.
Brut non-millésimé is the most frequent type of Champagne. This is a non-vintage wine that is generally blended from wines of different years and crus.
A cru is a specific village or section of land, tying in to the French focus on terroir or land in wine-making.
2. Rose Champagne
Increasingly popular, rosé Champagne is one of the most popular French sparkling wines in the United States. It can be made either by adding a small amount of still red Champagne wine to white wine, or by macerating red grapes in their skins before fermentation.
Rose Champagne has a delicate pink color and intense fruity flavor with notes of berries. Sometimes referred to informally as pink Champagne, it can be vintage or non-vintage, like Brut Champagne.
These Champagne bottles are popular in the United States, Austria, Russia and Nigeria.
3. Blanc de Blancs
Translating as white from white grapes, Blanc de Blancs Champagnes are made only from white grapes. These Chardonnay grapes give this Champagne a light, fresh flavor.
The grapes used in Blanc de Blancs Champagne are found in the Côte des Blancs and Côte de Sézanne area.
4. Blanc de Noirs
Made exclusively from red grapes, Blanc de Noirs Champagnes are quite a rare find. You might expect them to be red in color, yet these Champagnes are white.
The red grapes are lightly pressed so that the pigment is not squeezed out of the skins. The juice is therefore almost colorless.
Blanc de Noirs Champagne is made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. Many of these Champagnes are made exclusively from Pinot Noir grapes. They tend to have a dense, rich flavor.
Containing 32-50 grams of sugar per litre, demi-sec Champagne is a good compromise between reduced sugar content and flavor. This medium sweet sparkling wine means half-dry.
A demi-sec Champagne works particularly well with desserts, due to its sweeter taste.
6. Extra Dry
There is a trend towards extra dry Champagnes, with 12-17 grams of sugar per litre. This is partly due to health reasons and partly a matter of taste.
Although Champagne has a high acidity level, people are growing accustomed to low sugar varieties. These extra dry Champagnes are usually of excellent quality. It’s hard to hide behind a mediocre Champagne with a minimal sugar dosage.
You can even find Champagnes that are completely sugar free on the market, although they are quite rare. Extra brut Champagnes with 0-6 grams of sugar per litre are more frequently sold.
Low-dosage wines are particularly popular in Japan, South Korea and China.
In addition to these types of Champagne, you also have Champagne Millesime. This is Champagne produced from a specific harvest year. It needs to rest for at least 3 years before being sold, but often it is for up to 5 years.
Vintage or Non-Vintage Champagne
Champagne wine may also be vintage or non-vintage. By definition, vintage Champagnes can use any of the three grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier or Pinot Noir.
However, vintage Champagne must be aged in the bottle for at least 3 years. Non-vintage Champagne must only be aged for 15 months or more.
Types of Champagne Producers:
There are 3 main varieties of Champagne producers:
- Maisons – large Champagne houses such as Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot and Bollinger. According to the Comité de Champagne, the industry’s governing body, there are 360 Champagne maisons.
- Cooperatives – villages who cooperate with a variety of growers in the same geographical area. Nicolas Feuillatte is the largest cooperative in the Champagne region. There are 140 cooperatives in all.
- Vignerons – these are independent owners of wine parcels or vineyards, of which there are around 16,100. Some of them simply sell their grapes to the Champagne houses and coopératives, while others are grower-producers. On Champagne labels made by vignerons, you will generally see the letters RM. This stands for récoltant-manipulant, or independent Champagne producers, of which there are around 5,000.
Which of these types of Champagne have you tried and which is your favorite?
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