CHAMPAGNE - THE PRODUCTION METHOD (METHODE CHAMPENOISE)
Champagne - How it is made
Champagne is made according to various 'laws' set down by the Comité Interprofessionel du Vin de Champagne. Some of these laws include where the grapes can (and can not) be grown, how many grapes can be grown per acre of vineyards, what types of grapes can be used, how to prune and harvest the grapes, when to harvest the grapes and how much juice can be extracted from each kilo of grapes.
The actual method of creating Champagne is the 'Méthode Champenoise':
You need a bottle of wine to start with, made out of a strong glass. A 'liquer de tirage' is added. This is a dose of sugar and yeast which then causes the second fermentation (the actual creation of bubbles). The cork is not yet put in the bottle. Instead a metal cap, similar to a beer bottle top, is used. The strong glass is required as the pressure inside the bottle is now three-four times that of an average car tyre pressure.
The wine is then left in the cellars for at least 18 months (sometimes over 10 years for the best Champagnes). Then, over the course of a few weeks, the bottles are then slightly turned each day to bring all the lees 'sediment' to the neck of the bottle. This is known as 'remuage' or 'riddling'. There are only a handful of professional 'riddlers' left in the Champagne region, so the process is now largely automated, using riddling machines.
The neck of the bottle is then frozen (again, now mostly done by machines), the cap is removed and the pressure in the bottle forces out the frozen lees. A cork is then put in the bottle immediately, sometimes after another sugar or syrup solution is added to sweeten the Champagne.
The Champagne is then ready to be sold.