Champagne: How the World's Most Glamorous Wine Triumphed Over War and Hard Times
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Throughout history, waves of invaders have coveted the northeast corner of France: Attila the Hun in the fifth century, the English in the Hundred Years War, the Prussians in the nineteenth century. Yet this region – which historians say has suffered more battles and wars than any other place on earth – is also the birthplace of one thing the entire world equates with good times, friendship and celebration: champagne.
Champagne is the story of the world's favourite wine. It tells how a sparkling beverage that became the toast of society during the Belle Epoque emerged after World War I as a global icon of fine taste and good living. The book celebrates the gutsy, larger–than–life characters whose proud determination nurtured and preserved the land and its grapes throughout centuries of conflict.
the hottest day of the year. To Tomes’s immense relief, the merchant had brought along a hamper of his best champagne to accompany them on their eight-mile journey. As they made their way along a sun-baked chalk road, the two sipped iced champagne and exchanged idle chatter. Occasionally, Tomes would turn his head and stare in awe at Reims’s cathedral, still visible as they neared the vineyards of Verzenay. From the opposite direction came horse-drawn wagons filled with barrels of juice from
Harvests between 1902 and 1909 had been merely awful, but 1910 was catastrophic. Vineyards were attacked by insects, mold, and mildew. There was frost until mid-May, then hailstorms and heavy rains that washed away entire hillsides. Growers and their families waded through knee-deep mud trying to rescue the few vines that remained. As early as June, everyone knew there would be next to nothing to harvest, and they were right. The amount of grapes picked was 96 percent less than the previous
Dom Pérignon served as cellarmaster at Hautvillers, he never succeeded in totally eliminating bubbles from his wine. What he did accomplish was something much more important. He set down what some have called “the golden rules of winemaking,” procedures that are still followed today. Among them: Use only the best grapes and discard those that are broken; prune vines hard in the early spring to avoid overproduction; harvest in the cool of the morning; press the grapes gently and keep the juices
perplexing question concerned Champagne. “Where is it, exactly?” one person asked, noting that the precise boundaries of the growing area had never been set. Until then, it had been defined by custom and tradition. Growers planted vines where their fathers and grandfathers had planted them with little regard to soil conditions or other factors that determine the quality of grapes used for champagne. After fourteen hours, it was clear the men weren’t going to come up with all the answers, not
Vieux Reims at the Musée Verger, and Francis Leroy at the Municipal Archives of Épernay. Admittedly, some of our “research” went straight to our heads, and for that we must thank Nicole Snozzi-Arroyo of Champagne Laurent-Perrier. What a delight she is, and what a pleasure it always is to share a bottle of champagne with her. Plus, she seems to know everyone. “Whom should we talk to about this?” we would ask, or, “What about that?” Nicole always had an answer. One person she urged us to meet was