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Brut Champagne

Brut Champagne is one of the most important and iconic types of the famous French bubbly, and has always been the symbol of excellence in elegance and luxury. It is mainly produced from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Meunier grapes using the Champenoise Method, which consists of re-fermentation in the bottle, a technique legendarily attributed to Abbot Dom Perignon. It is often said that a wine is a reflection of the region in which it is produced, and in this case no other place like Champagne creates a fascinating synergy between product and terroir which seems to have remained unchanged for several centuries. Specifically, the Brut category is often mistakenly used as a synonym for sparkling wine, although it is actually a family that technically groups together all the bottles with a sugar content of less than 12 g/l. This is the case of the famous French sparkling wine, which is the most widespread and appreciated label in the world.

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Brut Champagne is one of the most important and iconic types of the famous French bubbly, and has always been the symbol of excellence in elegance and luxury. It is mainly produced from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Meunier grapes using the Champenoise Method, which consists of re-fermentation in the bottle, a technique legendarily attributed to Abbot Dom Perignon. It is often said that a wine is a reflection of the region in which it is produced, and in this case no other place like Champagne creates a fascinating synergy between product and terroir which seems to have remained unchanged for several centuries. Specifically, the Brut category is often mistakenly used as a synonym for sparkling wine, although it is actually a family that technically groups together all the bottles with a sugar content of less than 12 g/l. This is the case of the famous French sparkling wine, which is the most widespread and appreciated label in the world.

A Story, a Myth

It has always been difficult to trace its exact origins. Legend has it that Dom Pérignon (1638-1715), the Benedictine abbot of the town of Hautvillers, was the founding father. As is often the case, however, legend does not always go hand in hand with myth. In fact, it seems that the Champenoise Method, which is the set of procedures designed to carry out re-fermentation in the bottle to make French bubbly, was already widespread in France before the abbot was born. They produced the famous vin gris, which were still white wines made from red grapes. It often happened, however, that these wines, bottled in March, spontaneously re-fermented as temperatures rose, transforming the last residual sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Obviously in the barrels this process tended to be imperceptible as the CO2 was easily released and not trapped, making it effervescent. The breakthrough came when Dom Pierre Pérignon, realising the great potential of frothing, equipped himself with glass bottles. These managed to maintain constant pressure and "trapped" the bubbles inside the product, resulting in the famous perlage. The abbot was also involved in many other winemaking and enological activities, such as the blending technique, the study of the soil and terroir, the revolutionary use of corks and much more. With his discoveries and innovations, the abbot can therefore be considered to have revolutionised the history of French wines, lighting the way towards the creation of today's Brut Champagne bottles.

An important date was 1728, when the bubbly came out of the abbeys, marking the beginning of its triumphant journey. The following decades saw the birth of some important maisons, such as Ruinart and Moet & Chandon. The 19th century will go down in history as the period of consolidation of this sparkling wine, with the development of the Champenoise Method, through the discovery of new techniques and devices that measured the sugar component or helped production in the cellar. This led to the birth of mechanisation, which increased Champagne production from a few hundred to millions of bottles.

Finally, in the early years of the 20th century, a genuine regulation was introduced, marking out the production territories, the grapes used, the methods of production and the vine training systems. In 1936, all this led to the creation of the AOC Champagne, with an overwhelming and constant growth in production up to the present day.


Brut Champagne: a Unique Savoir-Faire

To fully understand what Brut is all about, it is first necessary to understand how Champagne is produced.

It all starts with the selection of the grapes, which, according to the regulations, mainly involve the use of Pinot Noir, Meunier and Chardonnay varieties. In addition, to be eligible for the AOC Champagne, the grapes must come from one of the five major areas including the Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne, Côte des Blancs, Côte de Sézanne and Aube. They are then pressed through a controlled process that requires several pressings. The juice is then sent to be fermented in steel tanks, wooden barrels and other containers.

This is the starting point for the production of still white and red French wines, while Champagne and more generally Classic Method sparkling wines undergo a second fermentation in the bottle on the lees with the addition of a liqueur de tirage, which is a combination of sugars, yeast and other substances. In this phase, the residual sugars are transformed into alcohol, other substances and very fine, sparkling bubbles. The yeasts catalyse this process until all the sugar has been transformed. At this point they perish and undergo autolysis, slowly releasing all the substances they have absorbed into the sparkling wine. The bottles are then left to age on the yeasts for a long period, while they undergo a process known as remuage, which consists of rotating and tilting them vertically in a slow and periodic manner. This step, which normally takes place on pupitres (perforated wooden racks), allows the yeast residues (fine lees) to be suspended, promoting their detachment from the bottom and densifying them towards the cork.

Disgorgement is then carried out, which involves removing the lees that have accumulated on the cork. The neck of the sealed bottle is immersed in a saline solution at -30°C that freezes the layer of lees, allowing them to be easily removed once the cork is uncapped. This operation can also be done manually and is known as à la volée. In this last phase, the dosage is carried out, meaning that a liqueur d'expedition is added, which is a secret mixture of sugars, old vintages and even drops of spirits. Depending on the sugar dosage, there are the following categories:

  • Pas Dosé or Brut Nature: less than 3 g/l (no dosage)
  • Extra Brut: 0-6 g/l
  • Brut: 6-12 g/l
  • Extra Dry: 12-17 g/l
  • Dry: 17-32 g/l
  • Demi Sec: 32-50 g/l
  • Sweet: more than 50 g/l

The Brut dosage is the middle range, which requires the presence of a very small and almost imperceptible amount of sugar to balance the disruptive acidity of the type and slightly soften the final flavour.


Profile and Best Expressions

The Brut has a pale, luminous straw yellow colour, which tends towards golden with long ageing on the lees. It has a fine-grained and very long lasting perlage, which indicates the high quality of the type.

On the nose it exhibits a delicate and elegant symphony of elements, dominated by the fragrance of white-fleshed fruit, citrus notes and nuances that echo a Parisian bakery serving brioche, bread and biscuits. Dried fruits, toasted sensations, hints of spices and mentholated notes can further enhance the range of aromas.

The taste tends to be deep, tense and creamy, with a vibrant freshness that harmonises well with the light dosage of sugar. It is marked by a long and pleasant mineral trail that makes the taste unique and original, full of personality and class.

Among the best Brut Champagnes available online, the Ruinart line, the Moet & Chandon collection (including Dom Perignon), Roeder's famous Cristal, Jacquesson's prized Premier Cru, the impeccable Deutz, Krug's extraordinary Grande Cuvée, the unforgettable Bollinger and Veuve Clicquot's inimitable La Grande Dame are certainly worth trying at least once in your life.

Discover the selection of the best Brut Champagnes on Callmewine's online wine shop. Discover the prices, characteristics and curiosities of Brut Champagne and have it delivered directly to your home in the fastest time possible.