Oct 04, 2017

The French Treasure - Champagne Almanac


The Name

Champagnes – arguably the best-known sparkling wines in the world – get their name from the region Champagne, lying about a hundred miles east of Paris. Champagne has been made in Champagne for centuries, with Reims being its unofficial wine-growing capital. Champagne, over the years, has become so popular that the word is used interchangeably with ‘sparkling wine’.

The History

Dom Pérignon, apart from being a vintage Champagne is also the name of the Benedictine monk who is popularly believed to have invented the wine – a charming tale that is in all probability a complete fabrication of time.

An Englishman by the name of Christopher Merret talked about the secondary fermentation of wine and sparkling apple cider in a paper presented six years before Dom Pérignon arrived at the monastery where he is supposed to have ‘invented’ champagne.

Limoux, another French territory made famous by the wine Blanquette de Limoux, has been making wine in a similar manner even before Dom Pérignon. In Limoux’s case the fermentation and bubbling of the wine that made Champagne so famous, was unintentional! It was in all probability a side-effect of an undesirable reaction that took place once the wine bottles were packaged!

Limoux was too far away from Paris to have any meaningful impact on the drinking culture of its time. Therefore sparkling wines made in Limoux did not gain as much fame as the ones made later in Champagne, and it came to be believed that the sparkling wine had originated in Champagne rather than in Limoux.


"Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right."

– Mark Twain


The Marketing Miracle

The popularity of Champagne really exploded around the beginning of the nineteenth century. This is attributable to innovative marketing strategies used by wine houses to sell their wine.

The Champagne house Laurent Perrier was a pioneer in the field of advertising wines. Around the end of the nineteenth century, they used advertising to boost their champagne amongst successive kings, queens and nobles of the French royal court. Once they had successfully achieved that, sparkling wine came to be known as a luxury. The bourgeoisie and the poorer sections of society aspired to imitate royalty, and, by strategically keeping prices affordable, Champagne became an affordable luxury. Laurent Perrier brought Champagne to new heights in this period.

Celebrity endorsements were effective as well. In 1866, George Leybourne, a respected entertainer was commissioned by Moët to write and perform songs on Champagne. One of the terms of his contract also required Leybourne to drink only Champagne whenever he appeared in public! People looked upon Leybourne as a sophisticated man – and a trend was set.

French women might have earned the right to vote as late as 1944, but one of the first ever businesses owned and run by a woman was in France in the year 1804. A French widow by the name of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot, who inherited her husband’s winery after his death, not just ran it but transformed it into a global empire.

But the most important contribution made by Veuve (widow) Clicquot was her invention of clear Champagne. By tweaking the process of fermentation, she was able to produce the clear champagne we know today. Until that time, the appearance of champagne was cloudy.

Champagne Post World War One

World War 1 is considered the darkest time in history for the wine trade. The region of Champagne was utterly destroyed, including cathedrals, churches, vineyards and cellars. People hid in wine cellars to protect themselves from bombing. By the end of the World War, the champagne industry was badly crippled and France had lost two of its major importing nations; Russia and America, which was newly under Prohibition.

It did not take as long as was expected for the champagne industry to get back on its feet, reaching its apex in 2015, when champagne sales worldwide amounted to €4.737 billion.


Le Comptoir

The wine and champagne scene in Hong Kong are burgeoning, with the elegant beverage gaining increasing interest among certain sections of the public. If you are looking for an enjoyable all-round wine experience in Hong Kong, look no further than Le Comptoir.

Le Comptoir bistro is a reputed French Tapas & Wine Cellar that offers a variety of mostly, French wines, including a variety of champagnes or ‘bubblies’. Apart from being an excellent wine shop, Le Comptoir also has a vibrant bar and food menu with seafood, meats, desserts and a list of small meals served for an ultimate fine dining experience.

Champagne Tasting

Mozaic Club is hosting a champagne tasting at Le Comptoir, Hong Kong on Tuesday, October 17, 2017. Included in the tasting are:

Sparkling Blanquette de Limoux: First on the list is not, strictly, a champagne! Blanquette de Limoux or ‘small white’ generally comes from the Limoux region of France. It is mostly made of the three varieties of grapes: Mauzac (at least 90%), Chardonnay, and Chenin blanc.

Champagne Brut N.V. AYALA: A pale yellow wine with a creamy texture, often described as mousse, this fragrant wine also has ripe fruit aromas.

Champagne Rose Billecart-Salmon: A fine bubbly champagne with a mousse-like texture, this pale salmon pink wine tastes of delicate fruits.

Champagne Grand Cru Henri Giraud Fut de Chêne: This oak-aged champagne is produced in one of the 61 villages designated, out of the 319 village of Champagne, to produce bubbly wine that can be named champagne. It is golden in colour with light pink notes, and provides a wonderfully acidic flavour.


Mozaic Club is organizing a Champagne tasting (4-types) with Canapes session at Le Comptoir on Tuesday, October 17, 2017, from 7:00 – 9:00 pm at 42 Forbes Street, Kennedy Town (Exit C of the Kennedy Town MTR station) in their upstairs tasting room.

If you’re interested in joining us, check us out on our Facebook Events Page or visit our Calendar Page to join our events. 

Hope to see you there!


#Champagne #LeComptoire #mozaiclub

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