In the Champagne region, the musts begin their first fermentation shortly after the harvest. At the end of this first fermentation, we obtain still, non-sparkling, wines, commonly referred to as “Vins Clairs”. Each year, in January, these wines are tasted by our oenologists. This tasting is crucial in determining our future blends and identifying potential vintage champagnes.
What is a vin clair?
The vins clairs are the base ingredient in the construction of our future blends. These still (i.e., not yet sparkling) wines are produced by the first fermentation of the musts, the alcoholic fermentation, which is carried out every year just after the harvest. This first fermentation takes place in vats in the CHAMPAGNE DE SAINT-GALL cellars.
At harvest time, the musts are segregated according to their grape variety as well as their terroir of origin. After this first fermentation, we obtain a large number of different vins clairs, each with its own specific qualities and these will play a very special role in the blending process. By tasting the vins clairs, we can also identify potential future vintage champagnes.
The champagnes’ fine and delicate bubbles will only appear after the second fermentation, which takes place in the bottle.
The 2021 harvest as seen by our cellar master, Cédric Jacopin
“2021 was a very tricky year, both in terms of the viticulture and the weather, with numerous meteorological events.
Despite these difficulties, we had a more than respectable quality in our harvested grapes, especially in the Chardonnays from the Côte des Blancs, which were very expressive and showed great richness. We could envision a vintage with this varietal.
As for Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, their quality is fairly varied. Nevertheless, they promise to add some lovely notes to our non-vintage blends.”
Following this tasting of the vins clairs, Cédric Jacopin and his team will get stuck in to the work of blending in March. We will have to wait and see if this harvest will become a Vintage… at CHAMPAGNE DE SAINT-GALL, we age our vintage champagnes for a minimum of 6 years in the cellars and for more than 10 years when it comes to our ORPALE champagnes!