Champagne, from the northern France region of the same name, is the most famous sparkling wine and sets the standard for sparkling wines. Tumultuous and beguiling aromas of biscuits, butter, nuts and honey lure us into to its shimmering depths. It is also one of the most northern grape growing regions in Europe which means getting grapes to full ripeness is fraught with difficulties and only daring winemakers can attain this consistently.
What separates Champagne from generic sparkling wine is the traditional method (méthode Champenoise) with which it is made. It is expensive and labour intensive and, unlike bulk made sparklers, most of it is done entirely in a 750ml bottle rather than in big tank. Real Champagne can only be made this way and it involves such interesting sounding processes as ‘riddling’, ‘resting on the lees’ and ‘disgorgement’.