Know all the terms to master the subtleties of sparkling wine,

AOC Champagne: Defines the four areas of Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée of Champagne:
The mountain of Reims (department of Marne): a good part of the mountain is exposed to the south, the hillsides are implanted on soils where the chalk is deeply buried. The main grape variety is pinot noir.
The Marne valley (Marne, Aisne and Seine-et-Marne) : the hillsides are planted on soils with a dominant clay-limestone, with a marly tendency. The main grape variety is pinot meunier.
La côte des blancs (Marne) : As its name indicates, it is the chardonnay that reigns in this region. The outcropping chalk is everywhere, a real reservoir of water and heat in the subsoil.
The vineyards of the Aube, located on the Côte des Bars (Bar-sur-Aube and Bar-sur-Seine in the Aube): the marly subsoils are mainly planted with pinot noir. The champagnes of the Côte des Bars are wines of character, with a beautiful roundness and complex aromas.
The AOC area of Champagne dates back to the 20th century by a law of July 22, 1927 fixing a precise delimitation of the Champagne vineyards

Acidity: the acidity in champagne must be measured, it can bring freshness (balance) or be excessive and acerbic.

Lactic acid : Absent from the must, it appears during the malolactic fermentation by degradation of malic acid. The must becomes less acidic, which explains the suppleness of the wines having undergone malolactic fermentation.

Aignes: After the pressing of the grapes, the solid elements of the grape come out. They are composed of stalks, grape skins and seeds. The aignes can be distilled and used to make Marc de Champagne.

Sulfur dioxide: Sulfur (or SO2) is a chemical or organic element with antioxidant and antiseptic properties.
It is a protection of the champagne to avoid during the manufacturing process attacks of harmful bacteria. It is also used as a stabilizer during bottling. Some rare champagnes are produced without SO2 like the Cuvée Variation du Champagne Fleury.

Ambonnay : wine village classified Grand Cru of Champagne, the Champagne Péhu Simonet is famous for producing great champagnes on this terroir.

Approval: the approval is the official authorization of the CIVC for the Champagne appellation of a bottle.

Staple : metallic part fixing the cork to the bottle. Henri Giraud champagnes have created this tool to facilitate the opening of stapled bottles such as the Champagne Giraud Fût de Chêne or the Champagne Giraud Argonne.2° and 12.5°.

Alcohol: the alcoholic degree of champagne is between 12° and 12.5°.

Aromas: volatile compounds of champagne perceived by the sense of smell.

Arbanne : Arbanne is a rare Champagne grape variety, it is part of the so-called "forgotten" grape varieties, it can be blended with other grape varieties or used as a single grape variety for the production of champagne.

Blending: This is an art. It consists of blending still wines from different grape varieties (pinot meunier, pinot noir, chardonnay), from different terroirs (villages, areas) and often from different years. The incorporation of older wines, called reserve wines, allows for greater aromatic complexity.

Avize : wine village classified Grand Cru of Champagne, located on the Côte des Blancs and famous for its Chardonnay.

Aÿ : Grand Cru village of Champagne, seat of prestigious Champagne houses such as Champagne Bollinger, Champagne Gosset, Champagne Henri Giraud.

Balthazar : bottle with a capacity of 12 L.

Barrel : It is a barrel with a capacity of 225 liters (Bordeaux type barrel) or 228 liters (Burgundy type barrel) for many current Champagne producers. However, historically, the Champagne barrel is 205 liters. It is generally made of oak.

Bâtonnage: This is the operation of stirring the lees in the barrels to put them back in suspension.

Bidule: It is a kind of small container in molded plastic intended to ensure the tightness of the bottle after the pulling and also it serves as recuperator of the deposit formed during the catch of foam. This container is then covered with a metal cap to hold it in the bottle. It will be removed during the disgorging.

Belon: container which is under the press of champagne to carry out the settling of the must.

Biodynamics: The foundations of biodynamic agriculture were laid by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), Austrian scientist and philosopher, founder of the method of knowledge he called anthroposophy (literally: wisdom of man).
One of the basic principles of biodynamic agriculture is self-sufficiency. Considering that the earth is currently aged and sick from all kinds of pollution, biodynamic agriculture uses specific preparations of mineral, vegetable and animal origin to make the soil and the plant sensitive again, receptive to the many subtle influences of the earth and the sky. According to biodynamists, these preparations used in infinitesimal doses energize the soil and the compost or serve as a remedy against cryptogamic diseases. The periods of work and use of the preparations are chosen according to the lunar cycles, the position of the constellations but also the time of the day. The Champagnes Fleury, Françoise Bedel, De Sousa and David Léclapart.

Bidule: plastic cover ensuring the sealing between the capsule of pulling and the neck used during the catch of foam.

Organic: biology is a method of cultivation that proscribes synthetic chemical products.

Blanc de blancs : champagne (vintage or not) made from the chardonnay grape variety, whose first quality is freshness.

Blanc de noirs : champagne made from the vinification of red grapes (pinot noir and pinot meunier), whose pulp (not the skin) remains colorless.

Bouchonné : Said of a champagne or a wine that has an unpleasant smell of cork (see also in mouth), this is due to a disease of the cork.

Stopper: champagne stoppers are made of cork, their mushroom shape ensures that the gas is not lost from the bottle.

Botrytis : It is a fungus that attacks the vine. It is a pest for the Champagne vineyard even though it is sometimes desired, in other regions in particular, for its production of noble rot necessary in certain sweet wines.

Bourbes : The bourbes are the deposits of decantation of the grape must. It is a name of Gallic origin "boruo" defining muddy water (the very aspect of the bourbes of Champagne)

Bud: outgrowth of the vine giving birth to branches bearing flowers and fruits.

Bouquet: set of olfactory sensations gathering the primary aromas of youth, secondary aromas of evolution, and tertiary aromas of the apogee.

Bottle: the champagne bottle is available in several formats: 1/4 bottle, half bottle (75cl), Magnum (1.50L), Jeroboam (3L), Methuselah (6L), Salmanazar (9L), Balthazar (12L), Nabuchodonosor (15L).

Bouzy : Bouzy is a village classified as a Grand Cru of the Champagne region and famous for its red wine and its champagnes made from pinot noir. Champagne Delavenne is a winemaker of Bouzy very appreciated by the amateurs. bearing flowers and fruits.

Brut: Brut corresponds to a champagne with a liqueur content of between 6 and 12 g/L. It is currently the most common and best-selling champagne.

Brut millésimé: these champagnes are made from the wines of the same harvest, without the addition of reserve wines. They have the character of the specific geo-climatic data of the year. In principle, only exceptional years are vintage; the decision to vintage or not is up to each brand.

Brut rosé : they are obtained by adding red wine A.O.C. coteaux champenois in a classic assembly, or by means of a vinification in rosé, by maceration of black grapes. This last method is more sophisticated.

Capsule-congé : Commonly called "CRD", Capsule Représentative des Droits, it is a seal affixed to the tin of the bottle indicating that the rights (taxes...) of transport of the wine have been paid.

Capsule de tirage : Metal cap that closes the bottle during the tirage. It is used to hold the pressure during the fermentation process and is removed when the bottle is disgorged after aging in the cellar.

Capsule : It is the metal plate of the wirehood, it is often decorated and personalized by each producer and thus sought by the collectors by their rarity and their diversity.

Caudalie : Unit of measurement of the aromatic persistence of a wine: 1s of persistence = 1 caudalie.

Cep : it is the "corp" of the vine.

Grape varieties: The 3 grape varieties authorized for the AOC Champagne are Pinot noir, Chardonnay and Pinot meunier. From their difference will be born the multiple flavors of champagnes. There are more than 6000 grape varieties throughout the world,

Circle : name given in Champagne to a winery.

Chaptalization : It is an operation which serves to add sugar in the musts, it was recommended by the chemist Chaptal (1756-1832) This process is very regulated by the law, its use is variable according to the quality of the years.

CIVC : Abbreviation of Comité Interprofessionnel des Vins de Champagne. It is an official structure in charge of defining the policy of the Champagne winegrowers and the Champagne houses, in particular as regards organization and transparency of the relations, constant concern of the quality, valorization and protection of the Champagne appellation.

Clarification : It is a technique consisting in ridding the wine of all impurities resulting from the fermentations.

Chardonnay: Chardonnay is a white skinned grape variety, very famous on the Côte des Blancs for producing champagnes of great finesse. Dom Ruinart is a Blanc de Blancs champagne of great renown on this terroir. In Aube, the terroir of Montgueux is also very famous for the production of its chardonnay as shown by the Champagne Beaugrand.

Brut Champagne : also called "brut without year" or "brut non vintage", it is a champagne whose dosage, after disgorging, is lower than 15 g/l of residual sugars. It is the majority of the so-called classic or traditional champagnes, obtained from the blending of the three authorized grape varieties, chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot meunier, from different plots of land, or even from different years (reserve wines). The blends can therefore vary according to the criteria chosen by each brand (champagne house or winemaker). This is what we call the style or the signature of the brand.

Clarification : Operation aiming at making the wine clear and limpid. In addition to clarification by natural sedimentation of lees and particles in suspension in a wine, it is obtained by fining and filtering to make the wine clear. Fining is done by adding protein materials, such as beaten egg white, which will flocculate with other proteins in suspension. The new compound formed, heavier, will naturally precipitate at the bottom of the tank. A soft filtration can also, by mechanical action, contribute at the end of the maturation to the final clarification.

Clayette : it is a kind of flat wicker basket where the small baskets of harvested grapes were poured and where the sorting of grapes was done.

Cochelet : It is the festival which closes the grape harvest in Champagne.

Cœur de cuvée : During the first pressing, it is the selection of the best juices during their flow.

Cooperative : a cooperative is a group of winegrowers who make wine in the same place of production (shared wine-making tools). The Champagne Le Mesnil comes from the cooperative of the same village classified Grand Cru.

Neck: upper part of the bottle, the term is used as a unit to determine the number of bottles marketed.

CM : logo used in Champagne to designate a Cooperative of Handling elaborating under its own mark champagnes of various producers.

Côteaux Champenois : Champagne can also produce still wines, which can be white, rosé or red.

Chalk: sedimentary rock very present in Champagne, bringing finesse and minerality; many champagne vintages take this name: Champagne Henri Giraud white chalk.

Crus : Term used to identify a champagne in the defined place of production, in relation to a soil, its terroir. In Champagne, 2 Crus exist and are defined by village :
The 17 Grands Crus are : Ambonnay, Avize, Ay, Beaumont-sur-Vesle, Bouzy, Chouilly, Cramant, Louvois, Mailly-Champagne, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger, Oiry, Puisieulx, Sillery, Tours-sur-Marne, Verzenay and Verzy.
The 44 Premiers Crus are : Avenay, Bergères-les-Vertus, Bezannes, Billy le Grand, Bisseuil, Chamery, Champillon, Chigny les Roses, Chouilly (PN), Coligny (CH), Cormontreuil, Coulommes la Montagne, Cuis, Cumières, Dizy, Ecueil, Etrechy (CH), Grauves, Hautvillers, Jouy les Reims, Les Mesneus, Ludes, Mareuil sur Aÿ, Montbré, Mutigny, Pargny les Reims, Pierry, Rilly la Montagne, Sacy, Sermiers, Taissy, Tauxières, Tours-sur-Marne (CH), Trépail, Trois Puits, Vaudemanges, Vertus, Villedommange, Villeneuve Renneville, Villers Allerand, Villers aux Noeuds, Villers Marmery, Voipreux, Vrigny.

The reasons for the classification are mainly the market value of the grapes produced and their quality. Compared to the basic price decided for the whole of Champagne by the interprofession, the real price per kilo will be fixed between 80 and 89% of the basic price for the grapes without vintage, between 90 and 99% for the Premiers Crus and at 100% for the Grands Crus.

Special Cuvées: raw champagnes, vintage or not, which differ from the basic productions of each brand by a particular assembly, a longer ageing, a special bottle and a more refined packaging. Their name evokes the history of the house:"Grande Cuvée 169e Edition (Krug)", or the "Spécial Cuvée" of Champagne Bollinger, for example.

Debourbage : After pressing, the must obtained is left to rest for 12 to 15 hours. This rest allows the debris of skins, pips and other solids to settle at the bottom of the tank. The must is then racked and sent to another tank. Wines made from clarified must gain in finesse and frankness. The settling of the must also eliminates some of the iron and delays the start of fermentation.

Disgorging: Manual or mechanical method that allows to eliminate the deposit of yeast and fermentation of the bottles, after having collected it in the canister by leaving the bottles "on point" (upside down) during several weeks or months. There are two methods of disgorging:
- The disgorging on the fly, it is by which the overpressure of gas expels the deposit as soon as the bottle is opened, it is the traditional method but it is less and less used because of its risk to make the bottle "blue"...
- The ice disgorging, the neck of the bottles are cooled in a liquid tank at -28° in order to freeze the deposit in the bottle, the overpressure releases this part of ice without risk

Demi-Sec: a semi-dry champagne containing 33 to 50 grams of liqueurs. Sweet champagne ideal for desserts. Champagne Yann Alexandre produces a Demi Sec Cuvée Sucré Noir with a nice balance.

Demi-muid : It is a half cask with a capacity of about 600 liters.

De-stapler : tool used to remove the staple from bottled champagnes. The House of Henri Giraud has created a staple remover to facilitate the opening of its Fût de Chêne d'Argonne MV 17 vintages.

Depointing : Action of removing the bottles on point (head down) from the stirring desks.

Deposit: Lies or deposit of matter that is removed from the bottle by riddling and disgorging.

Depointed wines: These are head-down bottles whose process of descent of the deposit to the neck of the bottle is completed, so they can be disposed of for disgorging and then put on sale.

Désentreillage : Action of removing the bottles from the piles in the cellar to prepare them for riddling.

Dosage: the last phase of the champagne making process, after the expulsion of the lees (disgorgement), the dosage is the addition of a liqueur called dosage or expedition, intended to complete the level of the bottle. Most often it is wine with added sugar to soften the acidity. Depending on the dosage, we obtain a brut, dry, semi-dry or sweet champagne. In the past, there was a category called "demi-doux".

Doux : a Doux champagne contains more than 50 grams of Liqueur. Champagne Delavenne produces the Cuvée L'Ile with a dosage of 32 grams, a real silky caress without any heaviness. The liqueurs used for this champagne are over 10 years old.

Extra brut: champagne with very little residual sugar, between 0 and 6 g/l. When no sugar is added, it is called brut nature, brut de brut, brut zéro or non dosed. It is a champagne for the discerning connoisseur.

Extra Dry or Extra Dry: an Extra Dry or Extra Dry Champagne contains from 12 to 17 grams of liqueur.

Disbudding : operation which consists in eliminating all the non-fruiting buds in order to control the yields and the quality of the grapes.

Entreillage : in Champagne, operation of putting bottles on laths.

Alcoholic fermentation: transformation of sugars by yeast into alcohol.

Malolactic fermentation: transformation of malic acid into lactic acid making the wine more supple. Some champagnes undergo this fermentation, others do not in order to keep more freshness.

Filtering: Filtering is the removal of cloudy matter from the champagne.

Franc de pied : A franc pied is an old vine with ungrafted vines.

Grand Cru: Only a few communes in Champagne are fully classified as Grand Cru. This means that for these seventeen communes, the grapes are paid at 100% of the quotation.

Gyropalette : : The stirring of the wine is rarely done manually. A mechanical and computerized stirring is thus carried out on Gyropalette.

Jeroboam: a Jeroboam is a bottle with a capacity of 3 Liters.

Yeast : micro-organism contained in the skin of grapes allowing the alcoholic fermentation. We speak of indigenous yeast for the one specific to the grape variety and exogenous for yeasts coming from outside.

Lieu-dit : We find them everywhere in France but the lieu-dit is in Champagne the name of a parcel.

Liqueur de tirage : This is a mixture of yeast and sugar added to the still wine to allow a second fermentation.

Marc : solid residue obtained after the pressing of grapes, it is often intended for distillation for its transformation into brandy, the marc of champagne.

Maceration : It is a process consisting in macerating the solid parts of the grapes with the must in the press.

Must : It is the grape juice obtained by pressing. In Champagne as elsewhere, the must is designated as the wine in fermentation.

Muselet : metal part holding the champagne cork on its bottle.

Mildew: disease caused by micro-organisms (pseudo-fungus) that destroys the grapes of the vine.

Vintage: A vintage wine in Champagne can only be made if the base wines are from the same year; the wine must also age for three years on its lees before being sold.

Négociant manipulant: the négociant manipulant elaborates his own champagne from grapes purchased to complement his own harvest. The big champagne houses have the status of "négociant manipulant" (NM) with their own vineyards and purchases of grapes for complements.

Trellising : this operation which takes place in June allows to separate the branches between them in order to avoid the settlement of the leaves and to favour a good aeration and a good photosynthesis.

Petit Meslier : Petit Meslier is an old Champagne grape variety. It is sometimes used by some houses.

Pinot Blanc : It is an approved grape variety of Champagne used in the wines of assembly.

Pinot Meunier : Pinot Meunier is a very popular red grape variety as it is one of the three main ones in Champagne.

Pinot Noir : Very clearly the first grape variety used in Champagne.

Premier cru : Communes classified between 90% and 99%. Therefore, the grapes coming from them are rated from 90% to 99% on the scale of the crus.

Première cuvée : Cuvée resulting from the first pressing of the grapes.

Ratafia : the ratafia of champagne is obtained from fresh grape must mixed with champagne brandy.

Récoltant Manipulant (RM) : winemaker creating his own champagne from his own vines. The champagnes of winegrowers are for the greater part registered under the name Récoltant Manipulant.

Rebèche : This is the juice remaining in the press after the pressing of the first vintage and the pruning.

Reserve: (vin de): This is a still wine from a previous year used to blend a non-vintage champagne. This allows to maintain the taste homogeneity, especially for the biggest vineyards.

Perpetual reserve : Method of conservation of the reserve wine n Champagne.

Raising: operation which consists in raising the branches of the vine to maintain them in vertical position.

Remuage : It is the movement given to the bottles of Champagne to direct the deposit towards the neck.

Trimming: it is a summer pruning which allows to favour the fruiting on the vegetation.

Sabrer : opening a bottle of champagne by striking the neck with a saber.

Salmanazar: bottle with a capacity of 9 liters.

Saignée : This is a process used for Champagne rosé wine. The skins and the grape juice macerate together for up to three days.

Without Year : The non vintage champagne.

Solera: This is a method of aging wine by exploiting the reserve wine or perpetual reserve.

Under cork: During the second fermentation, corks are used instead of metal caps.

On laths: Following the bottling, the bottles are stored in chalk cellars (in the traditional way) while waiting for the second fermentation. Mechanical pallets are also used today.

Sur Pointe: This is the action of placing the bottles without disgorging on a support with the neck down.

Pruning: regulated way of disciplining the vine by pruning.

Terroir: a set of soils and subsoils. Their exposure and their environment are determining factors.

Tirage : This is the bottling of the cuvée. The liqueur de tirage facilitates the second fermentation. A drawing takes place from January 1st following the harvest.

Barrel: A 300 or 500 liter barrel.

Transvasage: It is the filling of the bottles of Campaign.

Clear wine: This is the wine resulting from the first fermentation. There are two synonyms here: Still wine or basic wine.