Wine Tourism in Champagne
If there is a beverage that has the honor of representing luxury, glamour and sophistication in the collective worldview, then, without a doubt, it would be the sparkling wine produced in the French region of Champagne; this wine, that takes its generic name from the region where it is produced is recognized in the entire world as one of the main references of French gastronomy.
The region of Champagne
The region of Champagne-Ardennes is located in the northeast of France; its capital, Reims is known for its gothic cathedral built for the baptism of the medieval kings of France.
The precedent of Champagne was the so-called Vinum Titilum, produced in the region since the times of the Roman Empire, however, the rise of Champagne occurs in the 17th century when the Benedictine monk Dom Perignon introduced some substantial changes in the traditional method of elaboration of this precious nectar mainly by modifying the cork stopper as we know it nowadays, and increase the thickness of the bottles.
From that moment on, an era of increased consumption and refinement of the production techniques began. International expansion, promoted by the royal families of France and England, began in the 18th century.
The Designation of Origin (AOC) of Champagne demands that a series of requirements be met to preserve the purity of this drink.
The method Champenoise is characterized by two essential stages for grape fermentation. The primary fermentation, as in most wines, occurs in barrels at a temperature of 18 to 20ºC; however, the particularity of Champagne is found in the secondary fermentation, which happens after adding sugars and yeast, in the bottle, that is placed with the cap pointed down so the sediments can settle in the neck of the bottle.
The last step is the so-called disgorgement, freezing the neck of the bottle and uncorking it to eliminate the frozen sediments, after which it is capped again with its characteristic cork.
Types of Champagne
Apart from the classification between blanc and rosé, the Champagne is classified according to the sugar content of the drink; from Brut Nature, with less than 3 grams of sugar per liter to the sweeter varieties (Doux) with more than 50 grams of sugar per liter.
For the production of this drink mainly three types of grape are used: the Chardonnay, that makes up 26% of the cultivated surface and provides the Champagne its quality and elegance; the Pinot Noir (37%), a red grape with white pulp that adds body and aroma, and the Pinot Meunier, with another 37% of the surface, that greatly eases the combinations for the production of the sparkling wines.
Depending on the grapes used in Champagne, it is called Blanc de Blancs when only the Chardonnay grape is used, and Blanc de Noirs, with the other two varieties, Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier.
Some wine tourism activities in Champagne
The region of Champagne offers the travelers unique opportunities to be seduced by an endless list of activities that will remain in the memories of the tourist as an unforgettable.
Beginning with the treasures of the city of Reims, capital of French Champagne, we can go to any of the other four areas that the region offers: Epernay, Vallée de la Marne, Côte des Bar and Côteaux Vitryats, in all of these places we can find wine cellars (Maisons) where tastings are organized and where we can learn about the authentic method of making this renowned nectar.
One of the interesting activities that is offered for wine tourism in Champagne is the possibility to contemplate the vineyards on board one of the most representative automobiles of French spirit: the endearing Citroën 2CV, with a relaxing pace and classic driving that will delight the wine tourism enthusiast in Champagne.