Bit behind but wanted to do a quick post on Champagne week in French Wine Scholar. I know little about Champagne so it was a lot to take in. The complexity of the process was fascinating. It was like a series of eureka type moments combined with happy accidents and unique terroir that contributed to this one-of-a-kind drink.
Actually invented in Limoux (Lee-moo) and brought north to the Champagne region where the Champenois perfected the drink over time. Dom Perignon, Jean Oudart, Nicole Ponsardin (Veuve, which means widow in French, Cliquot), and Madame Pommery are key figures in the creation of such an iconic drink. They got lucky when the British sequestered all of the wood for warships forcing glassmakers to switch to coal and produce a higher quality bottle that could withstand the pressure. Combine that with the Spanish cork that could produce a better seal, and you could now capture all 6 atmospheres of pressure to bottle the stars.
Because of the many vineyards from which the houses sources, the different vintages used and split among the three major grapes (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay), each non-vintage champagne house is essentially producing a specific, consistent taste year after year by blending 30-60 wines. So my recommendation is to find the house whose taste you prefer and skip all of the marketing that comes along with it. In our class tasting, I found I enjoyed the blanc de noirs brut and a more bread-like taste with more creamy mousse versus the fruity/acidic champagnes. Here are some pictures of the night. It was fun learning!
PS: Don’t pop the cork when opening if you can avoid temptation. Best tasting practice is to have a light “pfft” upon opening so as to not release the bubbles out of the wine!