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Stages of Champagne Production
There are several stages of the production of champagne that must be followed in strict sequence.
Picking:- It is critical that the grapes are picked at the correct ripeness.
Pressing:- The more rapidly the grapes are pressed, he less danger there is of the skins of he red grapes colouring he juice.
Débourbage:- It is essential that all impurities in the must be given time to fall to the bottom of the vat.
First Fermentation:- For the first two or three weeks the must bubbles violently as the yeast begins converting the sugars to alcohol. This takes place within the vat.
Topping -up:- Vats must be frequently topped up to prevent bacteria altering the character of he wine.
Preparation of the Cuvée:- Great Skill is required when blending the still wines together. The houses maintain large reserves of previous vintages to give character and flavour to the wine.
Liqueur de Tirage:- A small amount of cane sugar and old wine is added along with a special yeast of a type that will fall easily, work in highly alcoholic surroundings and a low temperature. This is to ensure that every bottle will undergo a secondary fermentation within the bottle.
Sealing:- The bottles are sealed with crown corks and then stacked on heir sides in underground chalk caves.
Second fermentation:- This takes place inside the bottle and will take 3-6 months at a temperature around 10- 2 C.
Ageing:- The best wines are aged for 3-5 years, some even longer, but the legal minimum period for non-vintage wine is one year.
Rémuage:- The bottles are place in a rack with oval holes - the 'pupitre'  - their necks being tilted slightly downwards. Traditionally a worker known as 'Rémueur', grasps the bottom of the bottle and gives it a slight shake, turn and tilt.
Resting:- Bottles are stacked upside down in the cellar, with the neck of one resting in he bottom of another. They can remain like this for many years.
Dégorgement:- The neck of the bottle is dipped in a freezing brine solution so forming a small block of ice witch contains the deposit inside the neck.
Dosage:- The liqueur d'expédition is wine of the same blend wit a mixture of cane sugar and old wine added to it. This is used to top the wine after Dégorgement.
Recorking:- A compounded cork of three sections is wired to resist the pressure of the carbon dioxide contained in the wine.
Shaking:- Bottles are given a good shake up to distribute the dosage evenly.
Resting:- The wine is again rested for 4-6 months to allow it to marry and settle down.
Packaging:- the bottles are cleaned and labelled and despached.
 

Champagne Production

Champagne Bottles  -   Champagne Areas