In a new very interesting video from the Comité Champagne (Comité interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne), Patrick Demouy – a historian and Middle Age specialist, talks about the origins of the Champagne wines. We learn that Dom Perignon was the pioneer in the area of selective blending and that, 7 years after he died, the first known mention of what is called Champagne that had been bottled, appeared for Louis XV’s coronation in 1722. In that year, for the first time Champagne was served at the king’s table at the feast at the Palace of Tau.
In this interview, Mr Demouy says the first text that mentioned the vines in Champagne is in the Saint Remigius’ testament written around the year 530. At that time, the bishops were the first vine growers and the most popular wine until the XIIIth century was white wine. But, at the end of the middle ages, people’s tastes changed with red becoming a popular choice and the appellation Aÿ wines – a light red wine – gradually established itself. In the modern age, tastes changed with people preferring a still red wine style.
In front of the Rheims cathedral which is the cathedral where the kings of France were crowned, Patrick Demouy also explains that the “river wine”, as the still Champagne wine was called, was being served in the middle ages at coronations. But, in 1722, sparkling wine was served at Louis XV’s coronation. “This is the first known mention of what is called Champagne that had been bottled, being served at the king’s table at the feast at the Palace of Tau.” And a few years after, by the judgment of May 25th 1728, Louis XV impressed France’s wine history offering the Champagne area its most precious jewel, the birth certificate of Champagne: “In order to encourage the commerce and transportation of gray wines of champagne, His Majesty allows to bring bottles of gray champagne in the provinces of Normandie for general consumption and forbids to bring in bottles of wine from any other quality.” Louis XV only allowed the wines of Champagne to be marketed and transported in bottles, turning a growing legend into a real social phenomenon. The foam creation (second alcoholic fermentation) could finally take place in the bottle: Champagne was born. In 1729, the first Champagne house was created: Ruinart.
For Patrick Demouy, there are 2 key historical periods:
– First of all, the period 1660-1710 which was marked by selective blending (Dom Perignon, who died in 1715, was a pioneer in this area), the clarification of wines and by the making of white wines using black skinned grapes
– Then 1830-1840, when from a scientific standpoint, people got to understand the effervescence
To know more about the origins of the Champagne wines, let’s watch the video !