For those familiar with the fact that Catholic monks are responsible for perfecting beer, introducing free enterprise and the preservation of thousands of handwritten historical works, it should then come as no surprise that these most humble of men also brought Champagne to the forefront of the wine world.
It was French monks who were the first to bottle a sparkling form of wine called Champagne, named after the Champagne region of France. The method of making “mousse” (another name for bubbles) in a bottle was enhanced by the efforts of Frère Jean Oudart (1654 – 1742) and Dom Pierre Pérignon (1639 – 1715), Benedictine monks and cellarmasters at their respective abbeys of Saint-Pierre aux Monts de Châlons and Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers.
The appellation of Champagne has a colder and shorter growing season than the rest of the French wine growing world. Therefore, Champagne grapes had to be picked late in the year, with less time available for fermentation. For those that have tried fermenting wine in the cold (Sean) you will know that the cool temperatures stop the process of converting the sugar from the grapes into alcohol. The French monks perfected a new method of making wine – methode champenoise – by using a second fermentation process that took place in the bottle during the following spring. The second fermentation created carbon-dioxide bubbles that are the sparkle of Champagne.
On behalf of all lovers of bubbly: Merci beaucoup, Dom Pérignon et Frère Jean.
You can pick up a bottle of the Dom Pérignon 2000 vintage for about $125. Salut!