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French Wine - Wines of Champagne
Champagne is identifiable blind by the scent of toast, cooked apple, and butter pastry and a restrained, elegant palate with zippy acidity. The true form is inimitable.

French Wine - Wines of Champagne
Champagne can only be produced within a specific region of France called Champagne, centered on the towns of Reims and Epernay.

French Wine - Wines of Champagne
Champagne is made from one or more of three grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. Pinot Noir gives body and power to the wine, Pinot Meunier imparts suppleness and fruitiness, and Chardonnay lends finesse and delicacy.

French Wine - Wines of Champagne
Although Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are red grape varieties, the grapes are pressed gently enough to keep the skins from imparting color to the wine. In the case of pink Champagne, some color is intentionally bled from the red grape skins.

French Wine - Wines of Champagne
The two ways of making pink Champagne are the traditional saignée method and by blending red and white wines. The saignée method involves making a rosé wine by allowing brief contact between the pressed grape juice and the red grape skins.

French Wine - Wines of Champagne
Pink Champagne is becoming more popular in almost every major market. From 2004 to 2005, sales of the pink fizz rose 23 percent in the UK, 40 percent in the U.S., 50 percent in Spain, 20 percent in Belgium, 10 percent in Italy, and 78 percent in Australia.

French Wine - Wines of Champagne
A blanc de blancs Champagne is made from 100 percent white grapes (Chardonnay) while a blanc de noirs is made exclusively from red grapes (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier). Red grapes are often called black grapes in the wine trade—hence the name blanc de noirs, which is of course French for white of blacks.

French Wine - Wines of Champagne
Ever wonder how they get those bubbles in the bottle? Champagne houses make still wines first, called vins clairs, from each grape variety and plot of land. Then they blend them to achieve an intended style. After bottling this still wine, yeast and sugar are added to start a second fermentation. The yeast consumes the sugar, produces alcohol and carbon dioxide in the sealed bottles, and creates bubbly wine. After this second fermentation, the wine is matured at least fifteen months with the spent yeast to impart characteristic flavors and aromas. The bottles are slowly turned upside down to encourage the yeast to collect in the bottleneck, where it is removed before the bottles are topped up with wine, recorked, wire muzzled, and foil wrapped.

French Wine - Wines of Champagne
The large foil wrap around the neck of a Champagne bottle was used traditionally to hide the gap between the cork and the wine because bottles were not always topped up.

French Wine - Wines of Champagne
Champagne without bubbles is also produced in the region under the name Coteaux Champenois. This name applies to all red, white, and pink still wines from the area. These wines are fairly rare and tend to be tart and thin.

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