Champagne la Castellane

Épernay, Champagne | C.1895

Photo Credit: Felicia Swan

Legend has it that upon inventing the champagne that we know today, Dom Perignon uttered to his fellow friars, “Brothers, come quickly, I’m drinking stars!” While that story could be a fantastical myth, it can’t take away from the magic behind the bubbly. Commonly used for celebrations, victories, or even making it to Friday, over the centuries champagne has become the drink of good times.

To get that effervescent mixture just right, champagne is made differently than any other type of wine. After the pressing of grapes and fermentation, three different varieties are usually blended together. Yeast and sugar are then added to the blend. As the yeast gobbles up the sugar particles in this second fermentation, it creates carbon dioxide, producing bubbles galore. After aging for at least 15 months and cleaning out the leftover yeast flecks, the poppable product is ready for the masses.

Like most Old World wines, champagne is named after the region that it originally hails from. Considered the heart of the Champagne region, Épernay is a theme park for all things sparkling. Home to many of the famed champagne producers, the town boasts an “Avenue de Champagne,” where producers like De Castellane have magnificent estates. Harkening back to France’s Belle Epoque era, Castellane’s ornately decorated estate is a testament to the popularity of celebratory bubbles over the centuries. Even more remarkable? Under the pristine and ornate avenue houses lie almost 70 miles of underground cellars, working overtime to generate the right moisture and temperatures for treasured wine.

Strolling down the finely decorated avenue, it’s not hard to be put into a celebratory mood. Visitors “ching ching” from tasting room to tasting room—eventually seeing stars.

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