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Grandes Marques Champagne Houses: 10 criteria

3 general criteria:

1 – A global business strategy (production, marketing, communication) driven by performance standards that are designed to meet or exceed customer expectations.
2 – The protection and enhancement of the Champagne Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée throughout the world, including through joint initiatives run by the AVC and the Comité Champagne CIVC.
3 – Active participation in viticultural and oenology research, in particular those initiatives focused on continuous quality improvement, environmental protection and the objectives of the AVC joint research programmes. The AVC, or Association Viticole Champenoise is the wine-growing association of Champagne, founded by Champagne Houses in 1898.

7 criteria specific to each Marque:

4 – Multi-year contracts with selected Growers to supply freshly harvested grapes from villages authorized to grow Champagne grapes. Champagne Houses often use bought-in grapes to make up the yields from their own vineyards – which are managed in accordance with sustainable, environmentally sound farming practices.
5 – Pressing in line with strict quality-control procedures regarding fractionnement: separating the free-run juice drawn off at the beginning (the cuvee) from the juice extracted thereafter (the taille or ‘cut’).
6 – Primary fermentation in thermostatically controlled hooped containers, whether tanks, barrels, tuns, casks or vats. The capacity depends on the batch in question, looking to bring out the specific qualities of each grape variety and vineyard site.
7 – A large stock of reserve wines to balance and enrich the characteristics of each harvest, so maintaining a consistent House style regardless of vintage variability.
8 – The selecting of base wines (vins clairs or still wines) and the blending of cuvees by professional oenologists, combining the qualities of different vineyards, grape varieties and vintages to produce a wine that meets the expectations of the Chef de Maison – the Chief Winemaker and/or Cellar Master responsible for maintaining a consistent House style.
9 – Long, slow aging in the Champagne cellars, in ideal conditions (constant temperature and humidity) that bring out the delicacy of the aromas and effervescence –those bubbles that burst forth when the Champagne is poured, heightening awareness of the flavours and fragrances.
10 – A disgorgement technique that prevents oxidation, followed by a dosage that determines the category of Champagne, before final corking with selected raw materials. The bottle is then left to rest to allow the wine to settle, stored in ideal conditions until it is ready for foil wrapping – the last stage prior to release and careful delivery.

(UMC - Last updated October 2013)