Champagnes and sparkling bubbles go together. Basically, champagnes are sparkling wines exclusively produced in the Champagne province of France. However, did you know that not all champagnes have sparkling bubbles? If that information is novel to you, then you might have never heard of ‘Coteaux Champenois.’
Considering the popularity of fizz coming out of the Champagne region of France, it is difficult for many to believe that still wines can come from the same region. Well, Coteaux Champenois begs to answer any raised question.
What is Coteaux Champenois?
Coteaux Champenois is the name given to the still wines of Champagne. It is also a wine wine Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) in the Champagne province of France, covering the same area where sparkling Champagne is produced.
Coteaux Champenois are made in three styles: red, white and rose. Coteaux Champenois Rouge made exclusively from Pinot Noir grapes is the most popular style. Like sparkling Champagne, most wines are non-vintage. Production of the non-bubbly champagne is small, especially in vintages where yields are low, given the high demand for Champagne and the higher profit of producing sparkling wine.
It is a light, acid-driven wine, with lively fruit that pops. Some bottles list a village on the label, the most famous of which is Bouzy, which specializes in red wines. While Coteaux Champenois from grower-producers such as Geoffroy, Paul Bara, and Egly-Ouriet have gotten the most buzz lately, larger houses like Bollinger and Laurent-Perrier bottle still wine as well.
Is non-bubbly Champagne still Champagne?
Still champagnes are considered as real champagnes for two obvious reasons.
- It originates from the Champagne region of France.
- It makes use of the same grape varietals – pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier.
The only thing lacking in still champagnes is the second fermentation that takes place in the bottle to create the sparkly bubbles associated with the more popular sparkling wine from Champagne.
History of Still Champagne
The real history of non-fizzy champagne is long and largely forgotten. Apparently, the region is only recently returning to its roots.
However, it can be confirmed that Still Champagnes have long existed before its sparkling cousins. As a matter of fact, original champagne was produced with the intention of it being consumed as still wine. The sparkling character came about by accident.
The legend goes that famed monk, Dom Perignon was trying to prevent bubbles from forming when he accidentally made sparkling champagne. Perignon was actually searching for a way to stop bursting bottles due to the carbon dioxide trapped within and raising pressure in the weak glass bottles of the 1600s.
“Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!” Perignon said when he tasted his wine. Since then, Champagne has now been synonymous with sparkling wine.
Suffice to say that bubbly champagne is an offspring of the non-bubbly Coteaux Champenois of Champagne. This is to say that the original champagne is not the sparkling wine from Champagne which has become a luxury brand the world over, rather it is the still wine which most champagne producers still make a small amount of today.
What does Coteaux Champenois taste like?
Coteaux Champenois lacks the rich, yeasty, fresh bread body of sparkling champagnes. This is because during the production, the months of resting on Lees — the dead yeast cells remaining after the second fermentation — or the Riddling process where the bottles are turned and gradually inverted to remove the Lees is avoided. Thus, it is fruity on the palate, light and acidic.