The quality of this champagne is very high and they have prices to match. For example, their standard Ace of Spades Champagne, is packaged beautifully in a gold-style bottle and presented in an attractive case costing $300 (USD). The reason for these high costs is the craftsmanship that goes along with the production and the combination of three grapes, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
The Chardonnay grapes used by Armand de Brignac are sometimes aged in oak to bring out the buttery vanilla and caramel aromas, and the Pinot Noir grapes bring strength and boldness to the wine. Pinot Meunier grapes bring the roundness and fruitiness that delivers richness and body.
Harvest takes place in the region of Le Marne in September, and by law, all of the grapes must be handpicked—a traditional Champenois Coquart press is then used, delivering the first pressing of the harvested grapes and creating a Prestige Cuvee.
That’s when the oenologues create the signature blend by adding some of the previous year’s harvest which ensures consistency between bottlings. After bottling, they are then stored in a section of the cellars at least 30 meters underground with very cool temperatures. Ageing can last up to five years and then the bottles are placed in wooden racks to undergo remuage, where they are slightly turned each day to sift out sediment. After one month, the bottles are opened and the sediment is ejected by hand in a process known as degorgement.
Next up the bottles are then infused with a special liqueur made from a secret formula based from cane sugar. The bottles are then aged for another year in oaken casks from Burgundy and Champagne. The last stage is the corking and sealing followed by the artistic work which is visible on every bottle.
Armand de Brignac is based in Chigny-les-Roses in France and was established in 1763. A staff of just eight people crafts each bottle by hand, and accolades have followed the house for years. The latest is the award of #1 Champagne of 2010 in Fine Champagne Magazine, and a rating of 98 given by legendary wine critic Jose Penin. At one time, part of the vineyard was owned by the officers of the court of Louis XV, just so he could guarantee having the very best of the champagne for himself.
[via Daily Food & Wine]