04 Sep The Making of Champagne Eric Philippe Part Two
Philosophy Behind Low Dosage
While dosage sounds like a fancy word, its meaning is quite simple and integral to Champagne production. Dosage refers to the amount of sugar added to Champagne to balance the grapes’ high acidity. Due to low temperatures in the Champagne region, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes tend to have difficulty ripening. Therefore, winemakers balance out that acidity through dosage, giving you the tantalizing bubble and terroir-driven flavor to some of the world’s finest Champagnes.
Champagne Eric Phillipe uses low dosage methods to allow the grapes to show their truest expression. We’re taking a look at the philosophy behind making Champagne Eric Philippe wines, and why we pride ourselves on our low dosage methods.
E: What is your philosophy about making Champagne Eric Philippe?
A: The idea is to show the signature of my area, Montagne de Reims, which means the combination of fruitiness and power.
E: Why are you using a low dosage method?
A: We have low sugar added due to the high maturity at which we harvest grapes, plus the long aging in wood and bottle. For several years now, the trend has been moving toward ever-lower dosage levels (extra brut). By far, the majority of Champagne is classified as Brut, but many brands have reduced their dosage to the lowest levels of the Brut category (12 grams of sugar per litre to 9g/l or even 8g/l).
There are a number of reasons winemakers are choosing to move to lower sugar levels:
- In the past, one of the main usages of dosage was to mask defects in the wine. Improvements in winemaking technology and the increasing level of skill amongst winemakers mean that there are fewer flaws in wine.
- Many artisan Winemakers, like Nicolas, feel that adding sugar masks the natural flavors of the wine. They want to give consumers as natural an experience as possible and allow the wines to speak for themselves.
- Consumer preferences are changing toward products with less sugar.
We’ve come a long way in a hundred years when Champagnes were incredibly sweet with a dosage level of 200 g/l!
E: When does assemblage start?
A: Assemblage, or the art of blending wines, typically starts in July, which is later than most winemakers. Officially, blending can start as early as January 1st after harvest, but early blending and bottling are usually only done by larger producers who have commercial pressure to move the bottles along the production process and out into the market to sell. As artisan producers, we like to leave the wines to mature for a few extra months before blending and bottling. Doing this allows a greater expression of flavor and aromas in the final Champagne.
When you purchase our Eric Philippe At-Home Tasting Kit, you are supporting our artisan wine producers in France who are keeping the Champagne legacy alive. You will also receive a complimentary virtual tasting experience in your home where you can learn even more about the wines.