Sometimes, alcohol manufacturers charge the earth for their top-quality wine, cider or ale. But, the price is often linked to the brand, and isn’t simply related to the quality. However, this is not the case with champagne. It’s no ordinary sparkling wine, and not just because of its abundance of bubbles and distinct flavours. To be labelled as Champagne, this luxurious wine must be produced in the Champagne region of France. It also commands such a hefty price because of its production process. Firstly, the climate in the region is not very grape-friendly — the average temperature in Champagne is just 11°C. When you consider that the average temperature in Provence is 24°C, it gives you some idea of what the winemakers are up against. The latitude of the area doesn’t help either as it puts the grapes at risk of harsh weather and damaging frost. Needless to say, taking care of delicate vines and maintaining crops is no easy feat!
Even when the Champagne vineyards manage to salvage some of their grape crops, they then have to contend with the demanding Champagne production process. The wine is fermented before bottling and then again once it has been bottled. To do this, yeast and sugar is added to the bottle. After the second fermentation is complete, the dead yeast, known as lees, is removed. This is a long and arduous procedure called remuage, and eventually, once the lees have been removed, liquor is added to determine the Champagne’s sweetness. This whole process takes at least 15 months, and up to 36 for vintage Champagne. When you consider how difficult it is to produce, it is easier to understand Champagne’s premium price tag! A lot of love goes into your bubbly. So, next time you pop a bottle, be sure to savour it!