Watch an in-depth exploration of all things champagne, including its history, the various types, proper glassware, and how to safely open or saber a bottle of bubbly.
Read below for a full transcript of the conversation.
Laura Harrison Ward - Good afternoon and good evening. My name is Laura Harrison Ward. I'm a Regional Managing Director and Wealth Manager with First Republic Private Wealth Management. Thank you all for joining us at our Bubbly experience event. Today, I have the pleasure of introducing our guest David Castleberry, David grew up in Tucson, Arizona and made his way to San Francisco via Hawaii Big Island, where he was the beverage director at the Monica resort hotel. He's an advanced sommelier and certified wine educator. He has experience in multiple facets of the wine industry, including working two harvest in Sonoma for the legendary Patz and Hall winery before transplanting his vast expertise as a wine consultant, wine director and buyer to the San Francisco wine trading company in San Francisco. My favorite wine store by the way, he was wine director at Michael Mina's RN 74. He has an intimate working knowledge of the world of wine having extensively traveled the wine producing regions of the United States and Europe. He's an expert in the wines of France with an emphasis on Champagne and burgundy. David is also an acclaimed wine maker producing Chenin Blanc and Syrah in Santa Barbara under his own label. "Love and Terroir." Before we start a quick housekeeping note, you're welcome to submit questions during the demo to submit a question please use the Q&A icon at the bottom of the screen. We will try to answer as many questions live during the demo. Also this event is being recorded and the replay will be posted on our First Republic website with that I welcome David Castleberry. Take it away, David.
David Castleberry - Great, thank you, Laura. And thank you everyone for attending this webinar. We are really excited to be sharing one of our favorite wines Champagne, and I really can't think of a better way to start off the new year then with bubbles. I would like to let everybody know that as an appreciation, a token of appreciation for joining us, we're featuring 15% all bottles of sparkling wine @sfwtc.com through January 31st. And so I will make a few recommendations throughout the webinar but let's get things kicked off. So first and foremost, I want to make one distinction Champagnes specifically, only comes from the region of Champagne in France, any sparkling wine coming from outside that is simply sparkling wine. And the interest of this webinar, I will use the term interchangeably, but I kind of wanted to preface with that. So I think we should start with the anatomy of a Champagne bottle. We'll use here one of my favorites. This is Veuve Clicquot perennially one of the top producers in Champagne. And so first and foremost we're going to notice the shape of the bottle. It's a, got a lower neck line and a bit wider, the glass in a Champagne bottle is typically thicker. That's because the pressure within a bottle of Champagne is about three times that in a car tire.
So we're going to need quite a bit of glass to contain that level of pressure. When we're looking at the Champagne bottle, there is a couple of features of that differ from a traditional bottle. The first is you'll notice that there is a rounded edge suitable for a crown cap. Which contains a cap like this, similar to something that you're going to see on a bottle of beer. And I'll go into why that is done when we talk about Champagne production. The other part of the anatomy of the Champagne bottle is the punt here at the bottom. That is for storage. And the cellars of this Champagne cellars storage is at a premium and so when the bottles are stored, you get a little extra room with the neck going into the punt of the bottle. The other portions of the Champagne bottle are the cage, this is also known as a Museliere. Museliere is the French term for muzzle. And I think it's kind of appropriate when you think about it. Why the muzzle? again, talking about the pressure in the bottle of the Champagne and lastly, the cork. So the cork develops the mushroom shape because of the pressure within the bottle. You see there's the dimples on the edge of the cork, that's from the Museliere holding it in, and also the mushroom shape of the cork. This is because there's a small disk of treated cork that helps retain the shape and then creates the mushroom. So now that we've talked about the anatomy of the Champagne bottle, I guess it's appropriate to talk about Champagne bottle sizes. The example I was using is a traditional bottle. It's 750 milliliters, some other bottle sizes are the split, which is 187.5 milliliters you see this on airplanes a lot concerts, et cetera. There's the half bottle, 375 milliliters. My favorite, the Magnum, so if you ask a lot of the Champagne bottles the producers they say that the best for proper Champagne, the best size for aging is the Magnum.
This is 1.5 liters or two bottles. And the term comes from the Latin word Magna, which means great and I agree this is a good size for a party. Other sizes. We have the three liter and lastly to save myself the effort we have the 15 liter great for a large party and also known as a Nebuchadnezzar. So now that we've covered the bottle sizes, I think we should talk a little bit about aging and storage. I find that Champagne is best stored at 45 degrees. This is also as close as possible about the same size as your refrigerator. I think this is also good for serving for spot serving and long term storage. It's for short term, you can store the bottles upright. I think for longer term, it's really important to store it on its side and for long-term storage, it's more important how the consistency of storage versus keeping it the proper temperature. Obviously we don't want the bottles to be at 60 degrees, but I think a constant, 55 versus fluctuation is better for the bottle. Also it's important for storage to keep the bottles in a dark place. There are certain bottles that are done in clear glass that light can affect the tastes of the Champagne that's why if you've ever seen Crystal, it comes wrapped in a colored cellophane. This is to prevent a what they call light taint. So in regards to serving Champagne the reason I want to emphasize serving at cold is because when it's served to warm the number one, the, you lose the elegance and subtleties of some of the flavors, but also it emphasizes the pressure within the bottle. So when opening the Champagne the effervescence is much more pronounced. It's a little more difficult to control, and it's certainly a less enjoyable.
And for me, one of the reasons I like Champagne so much is because I enjoy it. So in regards to opening a bottle and for how long you can enjoy it, I find that you want to enjoy it within maybe a day or two after it's opened, you definitely want to keep it in the fridge. And if this is something that's going to happen on a regular basis, I think it's worth investing in a Champagne stopper. I have a couple examples here. Basically they fit on the Champagne bottle and it has a clast to help hold the stopper in place because of the pressure within the bottle. And I'll give you an example of how to use this later. So now that we've gone over the anatomy of the bottle, why don't we look at some different types of glassware to use to consume what's with them?
Suzie Shqair – David?
David - Yes.
Suzie - Quick question, as far as the storage and timing, what timeframe is considered short-term versus long-term, is it like a year, six months?
David - With every one question, the answer is always, it depends, I think with non vintage Champagne you're going to look at, one to three years with vintage Champagne, those wines can go for quite some time. I've had vintage Champagnes into the seventies, and they were really wonderful wines, really fresh. The difference being the perception of effervescence will subdue but yeah, if that answers the question, I think yeah, non vintage from great producers, one to three, and then vintage Champagnes from great vintages, decades. So that's glassware we have three, there's many styles, but there's three very common styles. First is the coupe. So the coupe style of glassware that you're going to see a lot at. Typically I see it like a weddings. It's one of the more traditional styles of glassware, rumor is that it was, it came into fashion during the court of Louis the 16th and Marie Antoinette. But in reality, it was developed in England about a century before. The other style is their flutes. And I brought two types of flutes here for you to see. And the reason I did that is because the traditional well let's, the traditional flute is a tulip shaped, and this is for a couple reasons it gives you more surface area and then tapers to help kind of emphasize the aromatics. And also the length of liquid in the bottle really helps you appreciate the bubbles as they be toward the top. Whereas in the coupe, you have a lot of surface area, so you're going to lose the effervescence but the amount of surface area also gives you more air max so there's pros and cons to each. This is another type of flute. I personally aesthetically enjoy this quite a bit, but the reason that this type of flute came into favor over this is because you get the effervescence, but you don't get the containment at the top as you do in tulip. So now that we've covered glassware I think we can jump into how to safely open and enjoy a bottle.
Suzie – David?
David - Yes.
Suzie - Couple more questions while we're still on the topic of the storage and keeping an aging, does a large bottle store or age differently or even better than smaller so does it matter?
David - Yes, the larger the bottle the longer the aging, and that's why the Champagne was preferred Magnum. They feel that it has more time for the flavors to develop the bubbles to integrate, but is as a general rule, half bottles will age faster than regular bottles Magnums will age faster, regular bottles will age faster than Magnums and so on as they increase in size.
Suzie - And what's classified as vintage versus non vintage.
David - So that's basically a producer's choice if they want, they can declare a vintage every year, most producers don't. So the art of Champagne, it really comes into the blending. I'm glad that you brought that up. So if we look at Vueve Clicquot they're a producer that makes great wine year in, year out, it doesn't matter the vintage, right? And what they do that by blending. So if you remember Veuve Clicquot maybe five years ago versus having Veuve Clicquot yesterday the quality is almost identical. And this is because there, the shatter cogs, the wine makers in Champagne are masters of the art of blending to take a product that's based on agriculture, where vintage variation really comes into play. And to be able to blend, to get a consistent product, I think is really the true sign of the excellent chef to cog, whereas with the vintage rather than blending multiple vintages to maintain that house style, what they're doing is showcasing really the elements of a vintage that make it special and unique. Some houses only produce vintage Champagnes. Salon is one that comes to mind. So in any decade, they might produce two or three wines and that's it they don't make a non vintage wine. And the agent requirements for vintage versus non vintage are also a little different, but I'll go more in depth with that later on.
Suzie - Thank you.
David - You're welcome. So now to talk a little bit about opening safely opening a bottle of Champagne, we have one of my favorites Taittinger La Francaise. So the one element when we were talking about the anatomy of the bottle that I didn't cover was the foil. And this is essentially more of an aesthetic that just covers the museliere and the cork. And typically they will give you a tab to help remove it's pretty pronounced peels right off, Wal-ah. And I'm going to show you two methods, using a serviette or it's fancy word for napkin, and then doing it without. So why do they use serviettes you really mostly see in restaurants, number one, it helps you dry the bottle which is important because a dry bottle you have more control over and with Champagne it's all about control, especially while opening. And the other reason is again, to cover the cork. So when you're twisting the cage, you remove the cork, it's just an extra layer to kind of keep the cork under control. So traditionally twisting the museliere it's six half turns to open. I like to loosen the cage and then slowly twist the bottle while maintaining control of the cork. This prevents the cork from breaking. And again, that is, the joker in the deck, if you want and a properly open bottle of Champagne should just have a hiss there's different schools of thought on this. Some people like the pop, and if, you want that for something celebratory by all means enjoy but in a more formal setting for opening Champagne the less volume upon opening the better. So again, to see the finished product, museliere, cork, all contained.
And now to pour so like opening Champagne pouring Champagne kind of comes down to your preference in a formal atmosphere like restaurants, they're going to pour the Champagne into your glass. But at home, sometimes, especially when you're using a flute you can maintain a control of the bubbles or the effervescence while pouring, it can be a little more difficult. So some people like to tilt the glass, which is very useful when pouring the wine at home. And then this is where the other part of using the serviette comes into play in case. So when pouring Champagne you want to go nice and slow giving time for the bubbles to settle within the glass. This prevents it from spilling over and as you finished pouring, give a gentle twist that in theory should keep any drippage, but the serviette will finish that job for you. And then in a larger glass, again, these are ones where it becomes a bit more of a challenge, but I feel like a nice slow pour giving the bubbles time to resolve as you fill the glass is the key to pouring the Champagne properly. If you are in a situation where you may need to tilt the glass to help contain the effervescence, just give it a gentle tilt and as you let the wine pour down the side, it'll slowly let the bubbles wear off. So I suppose now that we have some Champagne in front of us, I should toast. So cheers, thanks again for joining us happy new year and may you pop Champagne. And so to again show how to properly open a bottle without these or the serviette which is, I think, most common in settings at home or at parties. I know I don't run around with the serviette outside of when I'm wearing a suit and I have a pocket squares it's to do a purpose.
So the next bottle I'm going to open is Billecart and this is a rose. This is one of my favorite rosés from a great producer and kind of interesting because it'd be, if you notice the bottle shape is a little different, it's pretty unique, it's more of a bowling pin versus the traditional Champagne bottle this is really just a house style. There's a couple of producers that use different bottle techniques or bottle shapes. But it's more of like a stylistic choice than anything else. So again, thumb over the cork six trends of the museliere, loosen it, maintain control of the bottle, twisting it slowly, hold the cork in place, gentle hiss. And you'll notice as you're opening the bottle or as you get the cork close to being removed the pressure within the bottle will do most of the work to push the cork out for you. So you really just have to hold it in place and let the pressure push the cork out. So the Billecart rose I think really gives us a good opportunity to see why the flute is one of the glassware of choice. That's got a little bit of color, so hopefully that'll show better on the camera, but you can see we really get to see the bead and the effervescence is that rises in the glass. Whereas if we compared it with the coupe it's a kind of very slow effervesce towards the top. And now I will show you kind of the benefits of using the stopper. So it's super easy. You just throw it on top, insert it clasps on the side and it'll hold the effervescent it'll hold the sparkling for as long as it's going to take you to consume it. I will note that be careful because as this agitates, you need to treat it like an actual live bottle of Champagne. If it's shaken up, when you pull the stopper out it could pop you will lose control, but it's a very audible you'll get like the ears ringing kind of character.
So there we go. And now that we've now that we've opened a couple of bottles, I think we should see a much more entertaining method of Champagne opening. We've got a video coming up for you. Hi everyone, now that we've covered how to open Champagne in the traditional method, let's cover one of my favorite techniques, the art of sabraging. I want to touch on the fact that it's very important to be safe while doing this. There's more pressure in a bottle of Champagne than there is in the tire of your car. So we want it to be unagitated and properly cooled. We also want to make sure that there's no one or nothing that'll be damaged when we're removing the cork. This method provides much less control than when you're traditionally opening a bottle. Also we'll cover the tools here to be successful. We've got our Champagne glass hugely important. We've got our ice bucket to keep the bottle cool. I've touched on why that's important. And now let's learn a little bit about one of our other tools. This is the Champagne saber it's designed specifically for this process. It's not like a knife that you would find in your kitchen, it's weighted and it has a dull edge and it does look pretty cool. So let's take our Champagne in this case Magnum, we're going to dry it off because again, I touched on the importance of safety and maintaining control. We're going to remove the capsule and then the cage, and we're looking for two seams on the Champagne bottle. The most pronounced is the one that we want. We're looking to make point of contact at the neck where the seam meets the bottle. So we've got our cage removed, We've established our scene. We have a clear path. And I like to trace it a couple times just to know what line we're going to take and where the point of contact is. Wal-ah now my favorite part, enjoying our efforts.
Cheers. And now that we've covered the art of sabrage, let's dig a little bit more into region. Great. So now to talk a bit, a little bit about why Champagne is so special, why is Champagne only allowed to come Champagne from Champagne? There's a lot of regulations that apply to this area. It's one of the most legally protected regions in the wine world, honestly. It's one of the cool at the northern most parallel for a Champagne or for wine production. It's a very cool here. It can snow often in the winter. It has a very chalky soil. There's a little bit of clay in one of the regions, but it's predominantly chalk, a lot of fossilized oyster shells and because of the porous chalky nature of the soil, the Champagne cellars are some of the most extensive in the world. It's so chalky if you ever visited you can actually take some of the stones and write as if it were a traditional chalk for a chalkboard. It's pretty impressive. Because of this, it lends a lot of acidity to the wines and that cool climate is also really key to making a higher acid white wine, which is one of the keys for Champagne production. So the Romans brought in the great vine to Champagne in the fifth century, a shocker because they brought the great vine pretty much everywhere they went I guess they liked to drink. And so originally the sparkling wines and Champagne were considered a fault. They wanted to rival all the wines from burgundy in the south, which are primarily Chardonnay and Pinot noir, which is one of the reasons we see a lot of those grapes here in Champagne. So one of the myths regarding the wines and Champagne was that the bubbles were mastered or produced by the Benedictine monk, Dom Perignon. This is not the case. He actually spent the majority of his life trying to prevent the wines from sparkling. The one contribution that he did to make the Champagne was that he perfected the art of making white wine from red grapes.
And we'll talk a little bit about that in a moment, but really the person responsible for sparkling wine, as we know of now is Madame Clicquot of the Champagne house Veuve Clicqout. She contributed quite a bit to Champagne. She made the first vintage Champagne. She perfected the riddling process and she also pioneered the process of producing rose from blending still white and red wine. This was aided by advances in glass production that enabled Champagne to become produced on a mass scale. So Champagne is divided into five main regions. Cote des Blanc the Vallee de la Marne the Cote des Bar the AOC I mentioned earlier, there was a little bit of clay and Champagne that's found in the AOC. And then lastly, the Montagne de Reims which leads me to the question, why is Champagne associated with celebrations? So traditionally the Kings of France were coordinated in the cathedral in Reim which I would imagine was probably a pretty awesome party. And so I think that's where the association with Champagne and celebration comes from. So in Champagne, there's three grapes that a lot of us know and love there's Chardonnay and Pinot noir. The two that I spoke of earlier, there's a cousin of Pinot noir, a work called Pinot Meunier and then there's four other grapes that are very uncommon. You don't see them often blend labeled on their own. They're typically blended and usually to a small amount. Two of them, you might be familiar with Pinot blanc and Pinot gris, again, kind of cousins of Pinot noir, and then Arbanne and Petit Meslier two grapes I personally have never seen outside of Champagne so to talk about Champagne production they start their life really similar to most still wines, they're harvested they're fermented. The difference being that they are fermented yet again.
So they it's called a secondary fermentation. And this is what makes Champagne a unique the after the primary fermentation, the wines are bottled. They add a little bit of a yeast and sugar and that referments in the bottle. So there's two byproducts from fermentation, there's carbon dioxide, AKA the bubbles and there's alcohol. So because the wines are fermenting in the bottle and the bottle is closed. They carbon dioxide that is integrated within the Champagne, and this is what gives us that beautiful effervescence as Don Perignon said, "Come quickly, I'm tasting the stars." So the process basically goes as this, the wines are fermented in the bottle as the yeast cells expire. The bottle is slowly turned. and this allows that they call them lees. This allows the lees to move towards the neck of the bottle and this is also where the crown cap comes in. So over a period of time, the wines move make their way almost upside down. The lees collect at the neck. The neck is then dipped in an ice bath. So that little bit of wine and those yeast cells freeze the Champagne was then slowly tilt the bottle upright as they do they pop the crown cap, that little ice pellet pops out and the wine it's basically like a filtration or a clarification process. So anything that was cloudy within the bottle is now gone. And at this point we determine something called dosage. Dosage is what ultimately defines the sweetness level in the final product. Basically that's the fancy term for saying how sweet is it? And is it brut, extra Brut, et cetera, et cetera. So the dosage levels, the ones that are most common we're going to see we're looking at a brut net sucre. If you ever see that that's or zero dosage, that means there's no sugar whatsoever. Extra brut is another pretty common one that's zero to six grams a liter, a brut is less than 12 grams a liter and occasionally you'll see extra dry that's a 12 to 17 grams a liter. Anybody that's had like my white star that's wine is a little bit sweeter than most Champagnes. And so that is kind of the range, but if you haven't had them Champagnes actually go all the way to sweet.
You'll see. Sec, demi-sec and doux. But those aren't terribly common. So in addition to the dosage levels we're looking at a couple other categories of Champagnes there's blanc to blanc that basically means white of whites. So as a consumer, we know that the wine is made from 100% Chardonnay. The other is blanc to noir. As I spoke earlier, Don Perignon perfected the technique of producing a white wine from red grapes. This refers to that blanc to noir, white to blacks. Typically those wines are going to be a blend of Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier and then the final one that I want to touch on is rose So in Champagne, there's two methods of rose production. The first is the one that I've talked about pioneered by the Veuve Clicquot and that's by blending white and red wine to get the rose color. This is only this is exclusive in France to Champagne and all other appellations, you are not allowed to blend to produce rose. The other method of rose production in Champagne is from the Saignment method or maceration Saigne roughly translates to the bleeding. And this is how rosés are made pretty much everywhere else in the world of wine. It comes from a little bit of skin contact for those of you that were unaware even most red grapes have clear juice So the color comes from contact with the skins in Champagne. This is a pretty laborious and risky process. And most producers are really proud of investing the time and energy to create this artism product. And they will put prominently display on the label like Rose Saigne or rose dima rational. And that's really to let the consumer know that they took that effort to do this. I typically find because of the skin contact in addition to pigment, the skins can contain a little bit of tannin. And so those wines typically from a rosé standpoint, have a little bit more structure, a little bit more power. They can have some more color but there are some blended wines that have more color too. It's really a stylistic preference from a producer standpoint in regards to the color of Rose. And then I have and asked before, is there still wine produced red and white produced in Champagne? There is to a very small amounts it's labeled under Qutu Champagne.
But again, the amount export is almost minuscule, but if you ever see it, it's kind of fun to check out think of a higher acid, more steer version of the wines from burgundy. So I think the final label designation that we should touch on is the producer type. I've been asked a lot about the idea of like, what is grower Champagne? Grower Champagne essentially is Champagne that is produced on the estate by the producer. I think, I don't think legally that means that all the growth, the production, the aging, everything, and it has to be done on the estate owned by a single producer. So that's the term growers champagne. Some of the cool kids are calling like farmer fizz, but this is a departure from the traditional Champagne, which is called a nego something manipula. That is what you're going to see at the big houses. So Veuve Cliquot, Dom Perignon, Ballinger, they're all negocio of Champagnes So what does that mean? That means that they own or farm very little of their land. They purchased a lot of this fruit from other growers within Champagne and make the wine that way. Is one better than the other? Now I have favorites in both camps. I, the rectal taught, manipula the grower producers. That's a trend that you're seeing more now, I think, as of the two thousands. But it's kind of fun to check out and portfolio small business, right? So now that we've talked about Champagne production, producers, styles let's show off some of my favorites we already tried and saw Taittinger this is the Brut La Francaise and these are both going to be examples of non vintage Champagne. There's the Veuve Clicqout which we should all be familiar with. And Madame Clicqout, again, her advances in the world of Champagne cannot be overstated. She really changed the way the wines were made there, Dom Perignon, the prestige Moet and Chandon. That's a vintage. So Dom Perignon only produces vintage Champagne. And then lastly, Billecart-Salmon a brute rose and roses are done from the blending method, not the maceration or saigne that I had spoken about earlier. So now that we've talked about Champagne, why don't we look at the rest of the world of sparkling wine.
Suzie - David, do you mind if we ask a couple of questions here just a little bit? We're getting a lot of questions and want to go back a little bit of opening bottles. Why would you use one method versus the other? Is there an advantage?
David - There, if you use a napkin or a serviette there's a slight advantage because if perhaps you lose control of the cork, it's not going to be able to travel as far because of the weight of the serviette. conversely, depending upon how used you are to using a serviette and maybe you find less control it's, in my opinion it's more about formality than it is about is there an advantage one way or the other, unless you're talking about sabering, then it's just a cool factor.
Suzie - And what would, in your opinion, what's the best way to quick chill a bottle of Champagne?
David - Throw in the freezer, or if you're going to put in ice bucket I would do a 50, 50 mixture of ice and water. Don't use just ice. The 50 50 mixture helps give you better coverage of the surface area because the water will fill the gas where the ice isn't. But typically 20 minutes in the freezer or an ice bucket, and you should be, you should be dancing.
Suzie - Great and we'll do one more before jumping to the next topic. And can we receive bottles with beer, crown caps if we want to.
David - I wouldn't recommend it. I mean, in a pinch. Sure. And that's a def I, I'm glad you brought that up. Do not reseal a bottle with a regular cork because that you can lose that immediately with a crown cap, at least you're kind of maintaining the effervescence, but the risk of it popping out and damaging something is non-existent. Whereas if you put a cork in it, is that pressure builds up who knows? So definitely don't reseal it with a regular wine cork.
Suzie - Great and why is it harder to open Champagne in higher altitude?
David - I think because the altitude increases the pressure, the oxygen level, the atmosphere changes, and that's what it, they also say that your ability to taste becomes different. and I've heard that on in airplanes, there's a preference towards difference bottle sizes due to the pressurization change.
Suzie - Thank you
David - Welcome. Alright So onto some other methods of, and regions of Champagne production. So the traditional method is synonymous with the Champagne method. The wines are fermented again in the bottle but this just means that the wines don't come from Champagne, France. Some examples of this you're going to see. So in France, any bottle sparkling that doesn't come from Champagne is primarily going to be labeled as a chroma. And this is an example, it's the ballet they're labeling it blanc to blanc. So what does that mean to us? A hundred percent Chardonnay, and this is a Chroma Delaware In Italy, this is one of my favorites. It's a Franciacorta. This is really the Italian equivalent to Champagne. The wines are aged almost as long. It's typically vintage. So if you're looking for something that's made similar to Champagne but from a different region, I would look to the Franciacorta from Italy. This is definitely not Prosecco, I think we should all be pretty familiar with Cava from Spain, also made in the Champagne method. This is labeled gruve nature. So what does that mean to us as a consumer no dosage right? In Germany sparkling wine is called sekt. This is an example from Dr. Lippold. It's a rizzling sekt. Also made in the method traditional and typically non vintage Domestically. We have a Chandon And this is a blanc to noir so what does that mean? White wine from red grapes, this, they actually do us the favor and they say blanc to Pinot noir.. And lastly, one of my favorites and one of a couple of different producers in California that are based on Champagne houses in France. This is Roederer Estate made by the same Roederer and Champagne producers of Crystal, the Roederer Brut Premier you see here in the background. I think this is one of my favorite domestic producers, Taittinger that we had earlier. They have a domestic house also called Domaine Carneros.
It's making really nice wine if you ever see that. So outside of the Champagne method, there's another one called the tank method. The tank method basically is a rough replication of the Champagne method, rather than doing the second secondary fermentation in the bottle. They're doing it in large steel pressurized tanks. They add the still wine is put into the tank. They add some yeast, some sugar, the wine ferments in the tank, which is sealed. The CO2 is created, integrates to the wine and then their bottle pressurize. It doesn't go through the aging process of Champagne. Wines typically have a little bit abroad, coarser, bigger bubbles, and a little bit more they're a little bit fruiter. So If you've ever seen Prosecco Lambrusco, those are really classic examples of the tank method. And then the last method is called method ancestral. And this is a method that's really become more popular lately under the term Pet-Nat. Pet-Nat means Petillant Naturel or naturally sparkling. So this is a style based upon the original method of Champagne production. So the Champagne Ware, would make the wine, they'd have it in the cellar because Champagne is so cold. During the winter, the fermentation would stop. They assume the wines had gone dry. And then when the weather warmed back up in the spring, the wines would Champagne Ware. This is kind of what led to them, trying to perfect the process of producing Champagne with intent versus by accident. And that's kind of where the idea of method and ancestral came. So what they do is they ferment the wine either in tank or barrel, depends on the producer. They chill it before it's finished fermenting, they then bottle it and cork it. And as it warms up the wine ferments again some producers will clarify the wine prior to releasing it. and there's no real way to decipher who's doing what, but I find typically the producers that are labeling their wines Pet-Nat versus method ancestral.
The Pet-Nat producers are typically making natural wines that aren't filtered and a little bit cloudy. So the example I have for you is the Super Modeste, and you can see, hopefully that's a little bit cloudy. You can take my word for it. There is some yeast cells still in there. Just the cloudiness really do anything. Now it's more about the visual perception. I don't find it really to affect a flavor profile or anything like that. I will say that Pet-Nat wines because they have been fermenting in the bottle still, if you purchase one, you open it and you try it. And then you purchase one and save it and try it later. It will progressively get dryer because it is still fermenting a little bit along the way.
Suzie - David, tell us about the size of the bubbles, like our larger, smaller bubbles and indication of quality of the Champagne?
David - In my opinion, yes. So in like the aging requirements in Champagne the, so for a non vintage Champagne it has to be aged at least 12 years on the lees. And then an addition in a minimum 15 or 12 months on the lees and a minimum 50 total before it's released vintage wines have to be aged a minimum of 12 months on the lees. And then 36 months in all before release. And I think the aging on the lees allows the wine to integrate the bubbles better. That's why I find Champagne in particular, but other methods champagne ware wines, traditional method wines to have a finer bead a more subtle kind of effervescence whereas if you're looking, especially like at the tank method, if you pour the wine, side-by-side typically the bubbles are a bit bigger. The perception on the palette is a little bit coarser and that's because the wine has had less time for the carbon dioxide to integrate into the wine itself.
Suzie - Thank you. And one question people are asking is why don't we decant Champagne?
David - If we're thinking about, the example of like the coupe versus the flute, more surface area we lose effervescence. One of the reasons I like Champagne is because of the effervescence. So by decanting it we're going to lose even you decant the wine you lose effervescence, you pour on the glass you're losing more effervescence. So I think it's best just to keep it in bottle.
Suzie - Thank you.
David - Welcome.
Suzie - Is Champagne only an appetite in your opinion?
David - In my opinion, I think it depends on the style. I mean, I personally enjoy it as an appetite you can continue it into a meal with like some appetizers or some canopies. But I think to view it just as appetite really does the wine a disservice if you're looking at some of the vintage products, and like I said, some of like the rosés like the Soine you can really find some wines with a lot of complexities that are not just meant to, have as a quick splash before meal,
Suzie - What food you recommend pairs well with Champagne?
David - I personally prefer more salty, like savory foods. Oysters is a pretty classic pairing caviar on a special occasion. I've had some smoked salmon appetizers that are really great with Champagne, but I think there's other kind of saltier, interesting foods that do well fresh fries, fried chicken, potato chips. I think it's worth experiencing, I don't find there's any really hard and fast rules in the world of food and wine pairing. So find what you like people like chocolate and Champagne or strawberries and Champagne, if that's how you like to drink your Champagne, Go for it.
Suzie - Thank you. And then how much should someone spend on Champagne?
David - I think If you're going to drink or enjoy Champagne proper? I think it's worth investing a little bit more because you're going to see a better return on your investment, especially with Champagne. So I would say high thirties or forties to kind of enter the Champagne realm. Again, it's, for me, typically Champagne is not something I get to enjoy as often as I would like. So when I get the chance, I kind of want to treat myself. so for, yeah, for a non vintage Champagne, around that $40 range and then vintage Champagne has a whole other ballpark, you're probably going to look at least a hundred dollars.
Suzie - Which I didn't know about that, but why does Champagne smell like bread?
David - Well, we've talked a lot about the why, how Champagne is aged on lees those yeast cells. And if you think about one of the things that makes bread it's yeast, and because of that aging on the lees, it can develop some of those more ready characteristics the reason. And so that kind of begs the question, well, why don't I get those bread characteristics with the other ones that I try? Most other wines white and red don't really spend much time on the lees. And so therefore don't have the chance to develop that character.
Suzie - And does typical Champagne, which is double fermented get drier over time as well?
David - No. Typically, because it's been fermented, you've expelled the yeast cells and the dosage has been added. That's typically it. With age, the perception of dryness can change but chemically, it will not get any dryer
David - And any recommendation for what kind of Champagne to buy from Costco. You're going to see Veuve Clicquot at Costco definitely you'll see, Dom Perignon on Costco I have seen Taittinger at Costco. I've seen Roederer Estate there also. So I've seen actually the Brut Premiere there. So those are all options that you can find there.
Suzie - Let's take a little deeper and get to know David a little more, any interesting story you would like to share with us about your experience, about something with your time, dealing with the Champagne?
David - I did have a interesting lunch with a Champagne producer and he was addressing the table and talking about production methods or whatnot. And I was, I actually happened to be sitting right next to him and I don't know what inspired him to break off the conversation to the bigger group, but it kind of like nudge me and leans over. And he's like, "Hey, is a Magnum is a perfect size for two gentlemen, me and myself." And just burst out laughing. And this was a man who appeared to be very serious. So that was definitely something I did not expect then pretty it's something I will never forget either.
Suzie - And I think we're coming closer to them. We have a lot of questions, but I want to get back to you, David, if you would like to share anything with our audience before we end our webinar.
David - No, just, if you have any questions you may emails, justDavid@sfwtc.com. Obviously Champagne's something I'm super passionate about and I'm really happy to answer any questions. And I also just want to thank First Republic bank again for allowing us to be part of this. We're really excited to be a customer and partner with you. It's a real pleasure to work with you. And thank you everybody for joining the webinar. Hopefully you found some interesting things. I hope that you find a reason to enjoy some Champagne, maybe over the weekend or just for fun. It's not just for special occasions. It's a great everyday beverage. And another reminder that we're offering 15% off all sparkling wines, not just the ones we featured here that's going to go through January 31st and that's on our website, sfwtc.com. I use the code FRB.
Suzie - Thank you so much, David, for being with us today and for sharing all things about Champagne, history, various types, proper glassware. And my favorite is how to save a bottle of Bollinger. I think I'm going to give it a try. I'm sure our attendees enjoyed it as much as I did and to our attendees. Thank you for being with us today. As a reminder, this session was recorded and the recording will be available on our website next week. As David mentioned, the San Francisco one trading companies offering 15% of all Champagne in stock visit www.sfwtc.com and enter code FRB at checkout. This offer is valid until Sunday, January 31st a follow up email with a discount information along with quotes about Champagne and list of Champagnes we share today will be sent to everyone. Please visit our website for .com for a schedule of our upcoming webinars. Thank you everyone, and be well. Goodbye.