The champagne-making process starts among the vines. Our team of qualified winegrowers is prepared to work hard all year round to obtain top-quality grapes from the vine.
These grapes are hand-picked during the grape harvest, a time when the tasks of tending the vine and making the wine come together. Next, these fragile grapes are taken to our presses. We extract the grape must, which after the first “alcoholic” fermentation in the barrels will be referred to as “vin tranquille” (still wine).
The natural acidity of the grape must has to be controlled to assist the ageing process and preserve the freshness of the wine. The correction of the natural acidity is achieved by a natural winemaking procedure, the “malolactic” fermentation that transforms malic acid into lactic acid in a perfectly natural way. This activity is less intense and less visible, but takes longer than alcoholic fermentation since it takes four to six weeks. It tempers the acidity of the wine, to ensure its future stability and suppleness.
We practise the method known as bâtonnage, which involves stirring the fine wine lees that settle at the bottom of the barrels during vinification to bring them back into suspension. This is traditionally carried out using a baton, hence its name. This ancient practice has been found to protect the wine against oxidation of these components, but also against reduction, as the cuvées develop complex aromas that preserve the purity of the fruit. This promotes a rich mouth feel.
The essential stage in our Champagne vinification process is assemblage. This involves blending still wines from various harvests with the aim of giving the consumer the consistent taste they appreciate.
This subtle art gives each of our champagne cuvées its authentic signature. Only the vintage champagnes (millésimés) are made with the best cuvées of a single year.
As soon as the final blends are ready, tirage (literally meaning “drawing”) takes place (around 8 months after the grape harvest), whereby the wine is bottled and liqueur de tirage is added. At this stage, the bottle is closed with a capsule called a “bidule” so the wine can rest under optimal conditions. The wine then undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle, a process known as prise de mousse, becoming fizzy as the bubbles that will characterise it start to appear.
When the prise de mousse is finished, a sediment forms; this helps the aromas to evolve and improves the taste of the champagne. It then has to be removed before it adversely affects the champagne. This is done by remuage (literally meaning “shaking”). This action is performed manually using wooden racks and consists of carefully and gradually turning and tipping the bottle to make the sediment slide into the neck. Then the sediment is released during the process known as dégorgement so each bottle can be prepared for sale.
In the interests of quality, the champagne is matured on the lees in the cellar for prolonged periods. The maturing time varies according to the type of blend and the result sought: between 3 and 4 years for our bruts sans années (non-vintage). For vintage cuvées, we continue with the maturing phase for up to 10 years in order to let the remarkable aromas develop while preserving an incredible degree of freshness.
All these steps are crucial and compulsory when making a high-quality champagne. Combining ancestral expertise and extreme attention to detail, they are the ultimate expression of the Champenois soil’s unique qualities.
In addition, every year we strive to make improvements by offering even more quality-enhancing solutions, such as a high-performance cork to prevent aroma deviation, or a more sustainable vine cultivation method.