Why French Wine?
The history of wine is extensive and is said to date back to the founding of Marseille in 600 BC! Viticulture, the science and production of grapes, is credited to the early Celts, Greeks and Romans. According to Winestar, the Romans spread viticulture across Gaul (Western Europe), encouraging the planting of vines in areas that would become the well known wine regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace, Champagne, Languedoc, Loire Valley and the Rhone.
The historical province Champagne, located in the northeast of France, is best known for the production of the sparkling white wine that bears the region's name. Before the mid 1600's, there are no recordings of the beverage having existed in the region. In 1688, the Abbaye Saint-Pierre D'Hautvillers hosted Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon whose time there is closely associated with the creation of champagne wines. Holding management of the cellars, Pérignon was responsible for the wine making and eventual creation of sparkling wine!
The bubbles in the wine are a natural process arising from Champagne's cold climate and short growing season. As the grapes are picking late in the year, there is limited time for the yeasts present on the grape skin to convert the juice's sugar into alcohol. The fermentation process is stopped by the cold Winter temperatures then re-vamped in the bottle through the warmth in Spring. The re-fermentation creates carbon-dioxide which when trapped in a bottle, creates the sparkle.
A Wonderful Accident
Sparkling wine was not the desired end product for Pérignon! In the 1600s, bubbles were a sign of "poor wine making". This pushed him to spend years attempting to rid the wine of bubbles, working on different ways of blending different grapes and clarification techniques. Pérignon passed away in 1715, leaving behind the basic principles of champagne making. Although it only made up 10% of the Champagne region's output, the 18th century saw the enjoyment of sparking wine by aristocrats and royalty. The 1700s saw the establishment of the sparkling wine industry alongside previous favourites.
1728: Louis XV allows the transport of wine in bottles
1729: Ruinart becomes the first recorded Champagne house
1743: Claude Moët establishes the The House of Moët
Fun fact: The abbey where Dom Pérignon created champagne making is now the property of the Moët & Chandon champagne label.
Super fun fact: Before the French Revolution (1789-1799), the Catholic Church was one of the France's biggest vineyard owners, wine being heavily linked to the religion.
1813: Dégorgement, a phase is champagne making is first practiced. Perfected in 1818 by Widow Clicquot's cellar master Antoine Muller.
1853: Total sales of sparkling champagne reaches 20 million bottles up from just 300,000 bottles at the turn of the century
1914-1918: Great World War
Remember gentlemen, it's not just France we are fighting for, it's Champagne! – Winston Churchill, 1918
1920s: Four well known houses are established: Bollinger, Irroy, Joseph Perrier and Mumm
1934: The prohibition ends!
1945-1966: Champagne sales increase exponentially, nearly quadrupling
As you can see, French wine and champagne is incredibly special. From the founding of Marseille to the cellars of Saint-Pierre D'Hautvillers, France has had a huge part in establishing the wine and champagne we taste and love today!
Our team at Le Plonque have a very simple philosophy: La vie est trop courte pour boire du mauvais vin. Life is too short to drink bad wine! So choose the best wine and champagne in the world.
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