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Who invented the Champagne? Brief history of the famous sparkling wine.

The answer to this question seems obvious to some: according to legend the inventor of Champagne is Dom Pierre Pérignon, Benedictine monk, lawyer and responsible for managing the property of the Hautvillers Abbey, near Epernay. For many others, however, these statements do not constitute any proof, as they are a myth.

However, if the most recent scientific discoveries allow us to know everything about champagne, the formation of foam, the life of bubbles, their number, their diameter, their speed of ascent in the glass, its origin still remains a mystery.

It took more than 200 years of discoveries, trials and inventions to develop the most famous sparkling wine as we know it today and allow the naming to be born.

The winemaking tradition in Champagne is rather old: the first vines were planted at the time of the Romans. The vineyards were then maintained thanks to the attention given to them by the clergy and in particular by the monks of Reims and Châlons.

In the mid-seventeenth century, the inhabitants of Champagne, to differentiate themselves from the producers of Burgundy, began to talk about a “first white wine produced from black grapes”. This wine, “of a candor and a brilliance that imitates the crystal”, has great success at the court of the king of France.

By a royal decree issued May 25, 1728, Louis XV impress France’s wine history. His official action legalize the selling of wine in bottles outside the region of Champagne, thereby permitting a crucial development of the Champagne industry.

At the end of the seventeenth century, Dom Pierre Pérignon, research excellence and balance in the assembly of grapes, paying attention to the soil of origin and climate. However, according to some writings, the effervescence has been understood and controlled much later. In fact, it is only in 1837 that the Champenois can finally master the “second fermentation”.

In 1816, Antoine Muller, head of the Veuve Clicquot cellar, create the so-called pupitre. His invention, however simple, is of great importance for the production of Champagne, as it allow the operation of remuage with a much more precise technique.

The official recognition

During the 1940s, a dozen merchants from the province of Champagne undertake the first legal action to defend the “Champagne” brand. In 1890, a first law that geographically delimits the boundaries of the Champagne terroir and define rules and regulations, introduces the right to use the word “Champagne” for wines “collected and vinified in those areas”.

Finally, in 1936, the Champagne stands out as AOC. The producers and traders of champagne are officially distinguished by the term “appellation d’origine contrôlée“, the first in the world.

 

We have selected for you the best Champagne vintages from the most important producers of the region.

Take a look at our offer.

 

 

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2 Comments

  • The records of the Abbaye Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers where Don Pérignon was cellermaster from 1668 to 1715, do not contain any evidence of sparkling wine being produced. On the contrary, the records show that the abbey sold most of ist wine during this period in barrels, so it could not have been mousseux. The limited number of bottles sold by the abbey at the time seem almost certainly to have been still, non-sparkling wines, as they were never described as sparkling in the correspondence between the abbey and its customers. For a start Don Pérignon was not blind and is known to have worked hard to try to prevent the small amount of wine he bottles from becoming fizzy, since bubbles were widely considered a fault in Champagne during this area; sparkling Champagne became a commercially plausible wine style only well after Pérignon’s death. Only much later brilliant marketeers of Champagne came up with the story of a blind Monk who had tasted the stars.

    • Thank you for your kind detailed explanation! As you can read, the article does not take any position on the diatribe but limits itself to exposing two currents of thought and to giving some important dates to remember 🙂 We really appreciate your contribution!