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Champagne for Valentine!

Wed, Jan 31, 24
For Valentine month, what better way to share a bottle of Champagne than with your other half?

So, let’s look a little at the story of Champagne.

This is a wine region that loves to tell stories…some are true and some are clever market ploys ;)

However, as always, the truth is sometimes far more intriguing….

Here, you will get an idea of how there are different types of Champagne producers, making different types at different price points!

For example, we are led to believe that the Champagne style that we enjoy nowadays has been made in the same way since the time of the founder, Dom Perignon, in 1697.

Actually, there is evidence to suggest that the ‘Champagne method’ was discovered by Christopher Merret, an Englishman, 35 years earlier, in 1662.
He used apples instead of grapes as he made Cider. The Brits at that time developed thicker glass to be able to withstand the ‘second fermentation’ - one of the secrets to Champagne production.

The Champagne region has always been one that is made up of many farmers, that sell their grapes to large companies. These companies often have long-term contracts in place to support those farmers.

Over the years, some farmers have bonded together to
create co-operatives…some have over 80 winemakers and 5,000 vineyards!

Other farmers have decided to go it alone and become winemakers as well – these are known sometimes as ‘Grower Champagne houses.’
They are viewed as ‘place’ driven wines and show vintage and winemaker character rather than the familiar brand taste held by a larger house.

In fact, ‘Champagne Adam Méreaux’ is available at SWE; a 4th generation winemaker, farming just 7ha of vines - great taste and value!

There are around 305 million bottles of Champagne sold per year!

From the 1960’s and 1970’s, more and more ‘Grower’ Champagne started to be available in the USA and give the ‘Grande Marques’ a run for their money.

During the recent Covid times, we have seen the prices of the ‘Marques’ rise considerably. This has pushed most retail shops, restaurants and hotels away from the usual names, such as Taittinger, Pol Roger or Veuve Clicquot as ‘House Champagne’ options. This has also allowed a gap for the smaller, farmer-led wineries to create well-priced Champagne to take their place!

We, here at SWE, still support the ‘Grandes Marques’ as bottle selections but find that there is definitely better value in ‘Grower Champagne’ for our customers.

Champagne is a huge subject and I hope I gave enough in the column to inspire you to try Grower Champagne!
By Carlo Bonavita