The grape wine (scientific name: Vitis vinifera) belongs to the Vitaceae (Lindley) or Ampelidae (Kunth) family, which comprises around 600 species. The largest number of species may be found in areas with a temperate subtropical or tropical climate. These species are not used by humans. Only around 20 species are actually used for producing grapes or bases. All belong to the Vitis L. genus.
Grapes are a berry fruit, which develop from elongated inflorescences or clusters, where the petioles of future berries grow on the branches of the central stem. Vine leaves are trifoliate and very large. Ripe berries are round to oval shaped, grow from 5 mm to 3 cm, and may come in two colours: white grapes are yellow to bright green, while black come in all hues between pink, purple and dark blue. The size and shape of individual grape clusters depends on the vine species; some may grow fruits of up to 2 kilograms. Since the vine is a shrub and a climbing plant, it doesnít have strong branches, so it needs to be guided and pruned during growth in order to ensure the growth of larger fruit. When pruning, we also need to make sure the grapes do not get ìhiddenî behind the wide vine leaves, but rather get adequate sunlight.
Méthode Champenoise is the traditional method by which Champagne is produced. After primary fermentation and bottling, a second alcoholic fermentation occurs in the bottle. This second fermentation is induced by adding several grams of yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and rock sugar to the bottle – although each brand has its own secret recipe. According to the appellation d’origine contrÙlÈe a minimum of 1.5 years is required to completely develop all the flavour. For years where the harvest is exceptional, a millÈsime is declared and some Champagne will be made from and labelled as the products of a single vintage rather than a blend of multiple years’ harvests. This means that the Champagne will be very good and has to mature for at least 3 years. During this time the Champagne bottle is sealed with a crown cap similar to that used on beer bottles.