“We are always looking for new ways to conserve the environment,” says Philippe Wibrotte, PR representative for the CIVB in Champagne. With his dashing good looks,quick smile, and excellent English, M. Wibrotte is an elegant representative to convey the quality and value the Champagne region has to offer — as well as its message of “welcome” to visitors from regions near and far.
Now the word “quality’ is a key world everyone in the world understands when it comes to Champagne. Just think of the name itself …. Champagne.
Even the sound sounds luxurious as it rolls off the tongue. Whispered slowly, it conjures up images of blue skies, white yachts, sumptuous cuisine, and designer couture.
Quality is a key word when it comes to Champagne because … well, to be frank, it is one of the life’s few luxuries that is both dependent on nature as well as creative force supported by cutting edge science.
It takes one entire vine to produce one single bottle of Champagne. In that bottle is not only the well-nourished, well-shaded, well-pampered grapes of the season … yet also the youthful energy and focus of the producers I’ve met on this visit. Most of them represent the latest generation from a long line of old families (yes, with the requisite gilt-framed pictures of ancient relatives in the foyer).
Oh, and here’s an interesting thing from my visit with the CIVC. Many people in the world use the word “Champagne” to describe any wine that sparkles. Yet there is only one Champagne.
The differences between Champagne and many other sparklers can go on for pages, yet for a starter let us begin with the unique terroir (chalk and limestone for Chardonnay, clay and some limestone outcroppings from Pinot Noir) and the cool climate, which together gives the wine its all-important acidity.
And then there is the gentle pneumatic pressing, and the way only the finest, first part of the freshly pressed juice is used (with the other being sold for distillation).
Finally – and perhaps most important – is the way that the finished still wine from the various different plots are blended together in the end. From my conversation with Mr. Wibrotte I discovered the CIVB is active on a variety of fronts to help both help both grape producers and the large houses. The services range from extensive research and analysis with regard to viticulture (water, finding the best rootstocks for the soil and varietals, frost prevention techniques, alerts, etc).
Of key importance is the environment, with success on many fruits including lowering the carbon footprint. One way they’ve already succeeded in doing this is the creation of a lighter weight bottle that is sturdy enough to withstand Champagne’s pressure.
Visiting Champagne – its producers in their Chateaux as well the bustling city of Reims – is absolutely one of life’smost unique experiences.
You can read about all my experiences here