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Secrets of wine-making

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Making Champagne

The final blend is bottled from January onwards. With added liqueur and yeasts, a second fermentation takes place in the bottles. The transformation of sugar into alcohol produces carbon dioxide gas, this is the moment the bubbles are born.

The bottles remain in our cellars for a minimum of 2 years for our Tradition and Rosé cuvées, and 3 years for our Vintage cuvées
This second fermentation also creates a sediment which will be expelled after manual or mechanical riddling and disgorging. The sediment is captured in ice in the bottle neck and is expelled under pressure when the bottle cap is removed.

Before the final corking and muzzling, a “liqueur de dosage” is added to obtain extra-brut, brut or demi-sec champagne

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After 12 hours of rest, the sediment is separated from the musts.
Now quite clear, the grape juices quickly start their alcoholic fermentation at a controlled temperature between 18°C and 20°C.

This is the transformation of sugar into alcohol where the must becomes wine.

The quality and consistency of our champagnes lies in the delicate blending operation. It consists of mixing wines made from the three grape varieties, from different plots and even from different years (for our cuvées Tradition).

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Due to the fact that most of our grapes are black, producing a white wine requires pressing the grapes immediately after they are picked. They are pressed gently and progressively.

Immediately after pressing, the juice (or must) is analyzed to measure the sugar content.

The must is left to rest for 12 hours in tanks to let the impurities settle.

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The Harvest

About three or four weeks before the date of the harvest, we regularly monitor the ripening of our plots. The evolution guides us in the choice of which plots and grape varieties are to be harvested earlier or later. No two years are alike.

All the grapes are handpicked. For about ten days, around fifty grape pickers work in the vines. Most pickers come back from one year to the next. They particularly appreciate the wonderful family atmosphere and the traditional cooking based on fruits and vegetables coming directly from the family's garden!

The harvested grapes are carefully carried to the press in small crates.

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The vine wakes up

In the Spring, with the warmer weather, the vine wakes up. The sap flows up to the buds which swell up and open out to show the future blooms, this is called the “débourrement”.

Trimming off the buds is performed by hand, in May, this eliminates the young unnecessary shoots and regulates production.

Tying the shoots: in June, consists of separating the stems, sorting and tying to the wires with staples.
This improved distribution of the leaves fosters a better exposure to sunlight and improves air flow between the grapes, thus reducing the risks of botrytis, or grey rot.

Trimming: as the stems grow, takes place from early summer to harvest time, the stems are trimmed manually or mechanically. The whole energy of the vine is thus channeled into the grapes rather than to the new shoots, for a better maturity of grape.

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The vine rest

This period begins when leaves fall (late October-early November) and lasts until April when the vine wakes up with the warmer weather. During this six month period the vine rests. We prune each plant during this time according to precise and specific rules:
- Pinot Meunier is pruned in the "Guyot" or "Vallée de la Marne" method
- Chardonnay is pruned using the "Chablis" method
- Pinot Noir is pruned using "Cordon Royat" method

These pruning methods have been studied for centuries; and regulate the growth of the plants and yield the best grapes During this period we carry out soil analyses (once every five years for each plot) in order to bring in the necessary nutrients for each cépage.

We also till the land with a plough. The aeration of the soil, fosters the development of microbial life and the degradation of organic matter, indispensable for the life of the vines.