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Its adaptability to different soils and climates, and malleability in the wine room make Chardonnay one of the most popular and ubiquitous grapes. Responsible for some of the world’s most thrilling white wines wines including Champagne, it is in its homeland of Burgundy with villages such as Chablis, Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet that producers craft arguably some of the world’s finest wines. Chardonnay is also synonymous with California, where it can display riper, tropical fruit flavors, rather than the more restrained stone fruit and steely, mineral qualities often associated with its Old World and cool climate counterparts. While there are terrific fresh and vibrant Chardonnays made solely using stainless steel, the grape also knits terrifically well with oak, lending greater depth and weight in the form of a nutty, toasty and somtimes buttery component.
A country viewed by many as the home of fine wine, it is almost unique in terms of how embedded food and wine is in the nations culture. Given the diverse geography, with so much of the country providing the climate and soil suitable for viticulture, it is no surprise that its produces such an extensive and varied selection of wines. It is the country from where the vast majority of the New World's most popular "international" grapes and stylistic influences originate. While there might seem to be an alarming disparity between the most sought after wines (were a case might set you back as much as a deposit on a small house) and the millions of gallons of vin de table filling up the European wine lake every year, there is so much great value to be found between the two extremes. Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, and the Rhone may still dominate the market for fine wine, but regions including the Loire, Alsace, Languedoc & Roussillon and the South West are increasingly becoming excellent sources of good quality, affordable wines.
Champagne was the first region in the world to start producing sparkling wine on a commercial level and where most New World producers look to for inspiration. Producing a fizzy wine often occurred by accident, and was, for a long time seen as a detriment with producers going to great lengths to prevent a second fermentation. Due to the marginal climate the temperature in the fall would often dip, sedating the yeasts before all the sugars were converted into alcohol. When the region warmed up the following spring the unfermented sugars occasionally spurred on a second fermentation trapping the carbon dioxide (a by-product) in the bottle . It wasn’t until the turn of the 19th century that sparkling wine became popular and desirable. The region is split into four regions. Three are adjoining: The Montagne de Rheims to the north, the Cotes de Blanc to the south, and the Marne Valley in between. The fourth and separate region is the Cote des Bar in the Aube valley, some 70 miles south of Epernay.
Sub-Region: Epernay and Côtes des Blancs
Red wine is wine made from dark-coloured grape varieties. The color of red differs based on the grapes variety or varieties used.
Interestingly, black grapes yield a juice that is greenish-white. The actual red color comes from anthocyan pigments (also called anthocyanins) from the skin of the grape (exceptions are the relatively uncommon teinturier varieties, which produce a red colored juice). Most of the production centers around the extraction of color and flavor from the grape skin.