From grape to sparkling wine.
A delicate and complex art: there are numerous operations in the making of champagne. Each step is realised with a combination of traditional know-how and technical innovation.
The grape harvests are planned plot by plot for the grapes to reach perfect maturity. Picking is exclusively by hand to preserve the quality of the grapes.
The grapes are then pressed variety by variety and vintage by vintage. With gentle and gradual pressing, the best of the aromas can be extracted. The liquid obtained is called "moût".
The moût is transferred to stainless steel tanks. In these perfectly neutral tanks, the grapes can fully release their aromatic intensity and conserve all the fruitiness of the varieties. The first alcoholic fermentation takes place in the tanks, when the sugar in the moût is transformed into alcohol. This fermentation will take 1 to 2 weeks. The moût then becomes clear wine, called "tranquille" ("still") because at this stage it is not yet effervescent.
A second fermentation takes place in the tanks: the malolactic fermentation which reduces the acidity of the wine while conserving its freshness and fruitiness.
It is during the blending that technique goes backstage to art. The unique experience and know-how of the oeonologist governs the choice of wines. The different grape harvests are blended according to the years. Reserve wines from the previous year's harvests can be used to ensure a certain continuity in the quality and style of Bernard Remy champagnes.
Each blending results in a cuvée.
Before bottling, the cuvées are enriched with a small quantity of liqueur (cuvée wine + sugar + selected yeasts). This is what is called the "tirage".
The bottles are then laid down in the cellar in a horizontal position, called "sur lattes" (on racks). Under the action of the yeasts, the wines slowly ferment. The gas from the fermentation dissolves in the wine, thus making it effervescent. This "foam creation" takes 4 to 6 weeks. The bottles remain in the cellars while ageing on "lees" (yeasts), from 2 to 5 years according to the cuvées.
While the foam is forming, the yeasts form a deposit on the side of the bottle. To make this deposit slide towards the neck, the bottles are rotated once a day for 8 to 10 days and gradually inclined to the vertical. Traditional riddling on racks has now been replaced by a mechanical process: gyropallettes which faithfully reproduce the work of the ancestral riddler.
From disgorgement to corking and labelling
Finally, the neck of the bottle is plunged into a refrigerating bath at -20°C, trapping the deposit in an ice plug. The plug is ejected under pressure when the bottle is opened. It only remains to add the "shipping liqueur", the quantity of which will determine the dosage of the wine and assert its personality. The bottle is then immediately closed with a cork and muselet (wire cage).