Process of Champagne Production cont.


From each of the fermented batches of wine a small sample is taken and tasted by the wine makers.  The selected samples are then taken and combined to give a final master blend, which is called the cuvée. This can be a very difficult process since it requires the wine makers to predict the final flavour of the blend after the second fermentation.
The remaining blocks of wine that have not been used in blending are auctioned off to other vineyards.

Bottling, Second Fermentation and Ageing

Sugar and yeast are added to the final blend to induce a second fermentation. This wine is then bottled and capped in  the bottles that will end up on the shelves of the wine seller.  During the second fermentation the yeast increases the level of alcohol and adds CO2 which creates the bubbles in sparkling wine. This process takes about four to six weeks. The yeast must now remain in the bottle for at least a year to allow the champagne to age, even though the fermentation process is complete. The bottles rest horizontally on top of each other where the yeast collects along the bottom side. Most producers allow the sparkling wine to age for three to seven years before uncorking and removing the left over yeast.  The alcohol content of the wine is limited because at a certain concentration the yeast becomes "drunk" and can no longer ferment.  This is called lees.

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