Become A Champagne Connoisseur - 6 Facts From Vincent of Lasseaux & Fils

23rd October

We recently had the pleasure of sitting down to talk with Vincent Lasseaux from family-run Grower Champagne house Lasseaux & Fils. Our full interview is coming soon, but meanwhile here are 6 essential champagne facts and tips that emerged during the course of our conversation with Vincent.

1. There are actually 7 types of grapes that can be used to make champagne
Many people are aware that champagne is typically made from Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay but did you know there are in fact a full 7 varieties that are officially permitted in champagne making? The other four, and less commonly used varieties, are Arbne, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris.

2. Don’t save your champagne hoping it will improve with age!
Despite the stories we sometimes hear of champagne being stored in cellars for hundreds of years only to be subsequently auctioned off for thousands of pounds it's actually advisable not to store your wine for too long, much better instead to crack open that bottle sooner rather than later.

Vincent tells us that Champagne only gets better during the maturation on lees and can spend decades in the Champagne cellars. But once the bottles have been disgorged and a cork is on the bottle, the Champagne is as good as it gets. So you heard it here from an expert – pour yourself a Coupe and enjoy today!

3. Grapes used for champagne can only be picked by hand
Manual picking remains the tradition and grapes cannot be mechanically picked. Instead each and every whole, undamaged grape must be hand-picked as it was done in the 18th Century. Something to think of and appreciate next time you’re enjoying a Coupe of the good stuff!

4. The best way to store your champagne is away from the light and heat
Be careful where you store your champagne. It's natural to assume you'll store your champagne in the kitchen but however attractive the bottle is don't be tempted to leave abottle on show for any length of time. Left on top of a kitchen cabinet to be exposed to bright light and changes of temperature is a recipe for ruined champagne.

Champagne is best kept in a flat position so the cork does not dry out, away from the light (especially for clear bottles) and in a cool place to avoid sudden temperature changes.Once again, better to drink it sooner rather than later and avoid disappointment when you finally pop the cork– see point 2.

5. Don’t water the grapes!
Although you might well think that winemakers would rush to water their vineyards at the slightest sign of dry weather, you would in fact be wrong! Although it may seem incredible to us, another of the rules put in place to guarantee the quality of champagne means that artificial irrigation is strictly prohibited with the only watering allowed to be provided by rainfall. This is just one of the factors that will influence whether a vintage or non-vintage wine can be produced from a year's harvest.

6. Corks used to be fastened to bottles of champagne with string!
Before the invention of the metal cages that we are so used to seeing on bottles today, corks were secured by an expertly knotted hemp string soaked in oil using a method called Ficelage. Incredibly this method was still used even up until the First World War when metal muzzles and cages eventually replaced the time-consuming need for a ‘Ficeleur’.

Discover the full range of Lasseaux & Fils champagnes: