With over 300 millions bottles sold each year, Champagne is today the most symbolic drink for celebration, and United Kingdom is still the first export market with over 32 millions bottles/year . Things to say about Champagne are endless, so I would like you to please be indulgent with my attempt to make it short.
Champagne in figures is:
- 300 Champagne Houses
- 15800 Wine growers
- 38% Pinot noir, 32% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay
You can find more figure here
In its history Champagne has proven its agility to overpass its own death, from a difficult climate, difficult legislation, epidemic, and being a battlefield for the 2 WW, Champagne can be compared to the Phoenix who always rises from its ashes.
A word to retain from the Champagne history is probably “brotherhood”.
- French and england brotherhood first, the only reason sparkling Champagne has been possible, and the only way to find the “Phylloxera epidemic” a safe issue.
- Second, because I like to think that it might have a link between the “Brotherhood” in Champagne history and the fact that Champagne can only be made from a Blend.
- And finally, because with who and what are we celebrating when drinking Champagne if it’s not us, being together, friends, family, partners, a together achievement?
Sanger champagne is born from a simple idea ” to share the savoir-faire to survive”, it has been created in 1952 with the “former student cooperative” of l’école d’Avize, it is by essence the best conclusion to 15 centuries of Champagne history.
To understand Sanger Champagne roots, let’s go back in time in the cold climate of north-east of France when Champagne was still a still pale wine made from Pinot Noir badly ashamed in front the Burgundy ones…
“When France and England Brotherhood created Champagne”
Wine was made in Champagne since the 5th century, it was made from Pinot noir and it was a palish-pinky still wine, with high acidity. Due to the cold climate, fermentation was stopped before the yeast has died, and with the spring warming-up, the fermentation will start again, producing bubbles. While the Champenois and their French clients preferred their Champagne to be pale and still, the British were developing a taste for the unique bubbly wine.
Only after the Louis XIV death, Philippe II, duke of Orleans introduced the sparkling version of champagne among the french nobility. But still, Champenois didn’t really know how to produce good bubbles.
The 17th of December 1662, the English scientist Christopher Merret presented a paper detailing how the presence of sugar in a wine led to it eventually sparkling, and that nearly any wine could be made to sparkle by adding sugar to a wine before bottling it. It is the first step before the method Champenoise, and yes, like the train english invented it, before french improve it.
The French scientist Jean-Antoine Chaptal popularized the understanding that Champagne sparkled because it was sealed in a bottle before fermentation was complete.
English loved the bubbles when french were still taking it as a default.
The British method of coal-fired glassmaking contributed to stronger wine bottles being available that could withstand the pressure of the carbon dioxide gas better. Also they rediscover how to use the cork, and quickly understood that it was the sugar and the yeast responsible of the second fermentation.
Dom Perignon did a lot for the Pinot Noir culture and the practice of making white wine from red grapes. The widow Clicquot developed the process of riddling in the early 19th century to solve the problem of sediments without losing much gas.
In the 19th century the Method champenoise was finally written mostly due to Veuve Clicquot house, and from then other houses built their Champagne reputation, Krug, Jacquesson, Bollinger…
“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber
During the Victorian Era in england, and the Belle Époque in France Champagne is appreciated everywhere in Europe, the Napoleon conquests made the Champenois distribute it to celebrate victories in any parts. Russian love it sweet, when English drink it dry. French appreciate it in any style, Champagne has become the celebration drink we know today.
Beauty of this late 19th century: steam boats…travelling is made easier, quicker and cheaper. People are drinking Champagne on board, and travelling now is not only for scientists but for everyone who want to see the world. It has been a long time now that the new world vines have been discovered and that Vitis aestivalis, an american vine has been introduced and studied in Hammersmith, London.
And well, not only human were able to travel safely, but a little bug named Grape phylloxera (Dactylasphaera vitifoliae), we are in 1854, Fitch has done the first description, without knowing that we are on the eve of a terrible plague.
“Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God.” – Kurt Vonnegut
A parasite with 18 cycle stages in its life, discovered in 1855, no bigger than 1 mm, and still today we have no solution to exterminate it.
After devastating the English vineyard, in 1863 the first attack in France was seen in South of France but it took almost 10 years for the french wine makers to finally accept that what destroyed between two-third and nine-tenths of their vineyard was this little bug.
Again only the union of French and English scientists, plus the british-born american Charles Valentine Riley in collaboration with the french J. E. Planchon and promoted by T. V. Munson permitted to find the treatment considering 2 points:
- American vines were resistant to the Phylloxera but not able to make good grapes for wine
- French vines were able to produce good wines, but susceptible to the bug attack.
Solution was indeed about taking the best from those two vine varieties: grafted french vines on resistant american rootstock.
“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.”-John Lennon
The question after the Phylloxera epidemic was how to preserve the know-how to produce Champagne. Champagne has already rise from its ashes but what if something else happened?The idea of creating a champagne winegrowing school was then discussing.
Fortunately Champagne as Burgundy is a parcelled terroir, and so some parcels reminded safe from Phylloxera as 3 tiny parcels of Pinot Noir hold by Bollinger which give one of the rarest and most expensive Champagnes available. You could find some as well with Nicolas Maillart blanc de noir les Francs Pieds.
- In 1910-11 the champagne wine makers rioted to protect their rights, and to request a proper appellation and to keep Aube within the Champagne area, with Troyes which was the historical capital.
- The Russian and American markets were lost due to the Russian revolution and the Prohibition and the 2 world wars used the Champagne as a battlefield.
Champagne in 1945 was a devastated area but thanks to the Avize school it will rise again.
Jules Arthur Puisard was a rich Champagne negociant, he was wealthy and wanted to make a donation to create this school. Unfortunately his attempt failed, and this is only after his death, in 1919, that his widow Louise Eugénie Puisard was able to donate all their fortunes and goods in order to build a champagne wine growing School.
- In 1927, the Avize school of champagne opens its door to the first 13 youth who accepted to be trained for 3 months.
- From 1927 to 1939 the school will trained each year up to 29 people.
- After the WWII, in 1945 the school reopens with a full education program.
“Brotherhood created Champagne, Sanger celebrate it”
In 1952, the old students association was created and as they found sad that the school had so low access to the terroir when having such beautiful cellars, they decided to make regular donation of their “vins clairs”, machines, bottles, corks, to produce champagne with the students. The Former student cooperative was born, and so Sanger Champagne
Today each part of the Champagne territory is represented, with more than 40 villages, and 130 000 bottle a year.
The agility of Champagne to rise, as the Phoenix from its own ashes, despite a challenging climate it’s due to the Champenois ability to learn, listen and create from others point of view.
Also only this climate offers the ability to create those bubbles, only the unification of English and French “savoir-faire” permitted to elaborate the champagne drink.
Well, if Champagne has been born from the brotherhood, than Sanger is the celebration of it.
With access to all terroirs, all grapes and 3 centuries of know-how to produce champagne, Sanger offers a large range of Champagne, distributed in Uk by Jérome Poussin. Quality is at the Champagne best expertise, with the expression of all the various terroirs available in this beautiful area.
- “The Tango Paradoxe“, it’s a rosé expressing in the same drop the intensity and fruitness of Pinot noir, contrasted with the minerality of Chardonnay, which give an exceptional refine texture, and taste. If you are not sure about Rosé champagne, have a taste of this one, which by the way is made from the Saignée (bleeding) method.
- My favorite is the “Générosité noire”, a blanc de noir (white from red grape) made from Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier, as its named this wine is generous, and probably it’s the one who represents the best the intrinsic value of Sanger Champagne, that everyone is there to help everyone, as the 3 musketeers motto “all for one, one for all”. This wine is generous from his nose to the palate, brimming with yellow fruit and stone fruits I also found gooseberry and even blueberry flavours, then the grapefruit acidity and bitterness to give a great balance which allow the wine to pair from nibbles to main course, I would say pretty much all kind of meals.
- The “Terroir natal” is the Blanc de blanc (white from white) grand cru, made from 100% Chardonnay from Avize, the heart of Sanger champagne, just drink it by itself as it deserve to exalt its purity, minerality and its refine body. The Blanc de Blanc grand cru is a belle dame you have to treat with grand respect. Drink her with all your heart, and if you want to pair it, only do with genuine food.
If you want to find more about the Sanger range please continue the visit here.