Champagne is probably the universal symbol of celebration, success, or launching a ship… Even though Hong Kong doesn’t rank amongst the top consuming cities of Champagne, we have an amazing selection here. From everyday Champagnes like Moet Chandon and Veuve Clicquot, to more of the special occasion Champagne like Dom Perignon, Ruinart, and Krug; Champagne in Hong Kong is permanently ingrained in our daily lives.
Champagne has a long history dating back more than a century
Back then, Champagne was a still pale wine, shipped in barrels to other European countries and then bottled. How did Champagne become such a recognisable variety? Back in the 17th Century, fashionable and powerful men of England London made regular orders of Champagne from France. These shipments were often under-fermented with residual sugar and yeasts in the wooden barrels; from the temporary suspension of fermentation due to the cold winter months.
Once the shipments arrived and were exposed to warmer weathers during summer, it would then re-enter fermentation. Coincidentally, the English innovated on bottle production from wood-fired bottle glass to coal-fuel ovens, which produced much stronger bottles. Along with the “rediscovery” of the cork as bottle seals, Champagnes would re-ferment in English bottles, trapping the CO2 and creating enough pressure to carbonate it. Other European countries, even those who despised bubbly wines as a fault in production (including the French), became fascinated with the sparkling, English version of Champagne. Luckily for the French, it will go on to evolve into what it is today through a very specific French production method.
A proud product of France
During the 19th Century, scientific methods of Champagne production were first developed by the house of Veuve Cliquot, where they successfully removed yeast sediments through the riddling technique, and replaced the lost wine with sweet dosage. Not only did Champagne then become sweet and rather popular, it also improved the yield of Champagne production from being a hazardous industry of exploding bottles to one where just the right amount of sugar was added fit for different markets.
The idea of a dry champagne was not developed until house Perrier-Jouët produced their variety without any added sugar. It was initially ill-received and labelled as rather “brute”; perhaps dull and uninspiring compared to the sweet version. But Champagne Brut as a style became fashionable, and this style continues to be popular today. As a parenthesis, sweetness in Asian countries, especially for Champagne in Hong Kong, is less popular than Champagne Brut, even though sweetness is received well by the majority of drinkers.
Strict hurdles need to be met before being classified as “Champagne”
Firstly, the grapes have to be grown in the Champagne region of France. Additionally, the vineyards have to adhere to strict viticultural requirements, including pruning, the vineyard yield, the degree of pressing, and the time that wine must remain on its lees before bottling. As popular as Champagne in Hong Kong is, very few drinkers know about the Méthode Traditionnelle, which is the production method Champagnes must follow.
After primary fermentation, a further secondary fermentation in the bottles must follow for 1.5 years for Non-Vintage Champagnes, and 3 years for Vintage Champagnes. During secondary fermentation and aging, yeast autolysis occurs, which simply means the yeast cells self-digests, and imparts a toast, brioche, and biscuit like flavour into the Champagne. During secondary fermentation, the bottles are routinely riddled (turned) to settle the lees to the neck of the bottle, and later on disgorged when aging is complete. A small amount of previous Vintage Champagnes with sugar would be added to the bottle immediately as replacements to the amount lost in the disgorge process. As you can see by now, by the time you select a bottle of Champagne online or pick up a bottle in store, it has undoubtedly passed through many hands, and endured a long growing, production, and maturation process. Knowing this makes drinking Champagne extra special!!
Champagne in Hong Kong remains an integral part of our cultural fabric. We therefore focus on satisfying the appetite for Champagne online, with a combination of both everyday varieties, and those for special occasions. Whether you’re searching for a bottle of Prestige Cuvées, Blanc de Noir, Blanc de Blanc, Champagne Rose, or a Millésime Vintage Champagne; we have it ready for next day delivery. With Champagne online orders, we can even deliver it chilled the next day if you place the order before 3pm. If you’re unsure which Champagne is right for you, let us know via email or phone.