The history of Champagne
The Vineyards of Champagne stretch across 357 townships defined by a law dating back to 1927. The production area for the Champagne Designation of Origin (AOC) covers some 34,000 hectares broken down into:
– 17 townships growing Grand Cru grapes, covering around 4,000 hectares (12% of the AOC),
– 44 townships growing Premier Cru grapes, covering around 5,000 hectares (15 % of the AOC),
– 296 townships growing other Crus covering around 25,000 hectares or 73% of the AOC.
The three cépages or grape varieties are Chardonnay (Blanc), Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (Noir).
Champagne, a how-to guide
The creation of champagne can be broken down into several basic stages: the vendange (harvesting of the grapes), the vinification (winemaking), the assemblage (blending), the tirage (bottling), the remuage (riddling), the dégorgement (disgorging) and the dosage (dosing).
In Champagne, the harvesting – done exclusively by hand – traditionally takes place between September and mid-October. The grape is then pressed cru by cru and variety by variety, thus producing what is known as the must.
In order to purify this must, during the settling (racking), sulphur dioxide is added (sulphiting stage). This addition protects the wine from the oxygen in the air and helps promote the settling of the juice.
This purified must will then be transferred into the casks; “foudres” (vast wooden barrels) or heat-regulated stainless steel vats. This is the moment when the grape juice turns into wine, thanks to alcoholic fermentation, which will be encouraged through the addition of yeast to the grape juice. The entire mixture must rest at a controlled temperature to allow the optimal development of flavour.
Assemblage: the crucial stage in champagne-making
The most delicate stage is then entrusted to the cellar master and his oenologists, who will create the entire harmony and personality of the champagne. The assemblage or blending of a champagne with a unique balance essentially rests on three key elements: the cru, the grape variety and the vintage.
The art of assemblage is therefore the cornerstone of a champagne’s creation. It requires experience, as a hundred or so different wines can sometimes be blended. So each cuvée is composed from a palette of still wines, with the addition of one or more reserve wines from previous years.
And the champagne bubble was created!
Once the alchemist’s work is done, our next step is tirage or bottling, which consists of adding the sugars and yeasts to the developing champagne in order for its bubbles to form. This second fermentation is called the prise de mousse or bubble production.
The champagne, once bottled, will be stored in cellars for 18 months to several years (aging on lees). Following this, the bottles will be put on spikes (the remuage or riddling: each day, they will be rotated by one quarter in order to encourage the yeast sediments to descend towards the top).
Lastly, the bottles will be placed top down in order to carry out the disgorging stage, which entails freezing the neck of the bottle so that the pressure from the champagne will eject the ice cube, taking the yeast sediments with it.
After the choice of dosage (Ultra Brut – Brut – Sec – Demi sec – etc), the champagne is now ready to be dressed up all ready to be drunk.
The Jeeper Story
Wine growers since the 18th century, the Maison Jeeper story truly began in 1949.
It was then that Armand Goutorbe, son of Victor Goutorbe, on his return from the Second World War, decide to produce and sell his Champagne.
Armand Goutorbe christened his brand Champagne JEEPER, with an eye to making himself stand out from the many wine growers of the region also named Goutorbe, and in reference to the Jeep bestowed upon him by the local authorities to help him ascend the vineyard slopes with ease.
As part of its winery investments in the Bordeaux region and in Tokaji, Hungary, the Reybier group has just joined forces with Nicolas Dubois, current Chief Executive, to take over the firm “Les Domaines Jeeper”. Under the leadership of this group, the house of Champagne Jeeper is now consolidated and possesses the means necessary for its development, as well as for its desire to transform its offering into a premium product.
A few figures about Champagne Jeeper:
· 40 hectares of land owned
· 160 hectares of grapes supplied under a multiannual contract with wine-growing partners in the region
· Approximately 2,500,000 bottles produced each year under full ownership
Mainly distributed in France (70%), and in search of new footholds, our sales momentum is also demonstrating a pitch perfect development in terms of exports.
Life at the company
Champagne Jeeper largely carries out its operations at the Faverolles and Coëmy site, near Reims, in the north west of the Champagne Region. The site employs around thirty people.
Champagne Jeeper’s production is harvested from 40 hectares of proprietary vineyards, and around 160 hectares of grape suppliers’ land.