We all know champagne is uplifting – hence why it is the perfect drink for celebration and also why it can help alleviate black dog on our darker days. There are an awful lot of aromas in a glass of champagne – lovely toasty and vanilla overtones all helped from lengthy bottle age (where the bottles age in the cellars in France before having the sediment removed via the disgorgement process) – as well as all the complexities of the grape blend. So do champagne bubbles also add flavour?
Champagne Ageing Process
To my mind, gentler bubbles (again substantially a feature of spending longer ageing in the bottle) certainly help the drinker enjoy and experience the range of flavours the wine offers. Which is why our producers insist on a minimum of 3 years in the cellars for their non-vintage. As opposed to the legal minimum of 15 months.
Champagne Bottling Process
I have always suspected that champagne mousse (bubbles) exacerbate the underlying flavours because all those bubbles have been formed in the bottle right at the start of the bottling process when the yeast was alive and feasting on the sugar in the raw blended wine. It is this process – the second fermentation in bottle – that is the absolutely unique invention of the Champenois and thus why this technique of adding the fizz to sparkling wine was known as “Champagne Method” or “Methode Champenois” before EU legislation (and protection of the Champagne Appellation) forbade it.
This area is a hoary chestnut ... more anon!