Before the end of the 17th century, the champagne was clogged with a piece of wood wrapped in linen, hemp tightly sealed by the sealing wax. Then, until the beginning of the 19th century, the wine merchants manually closed the bottles with a cork stopper whose diameter was twice as large as that of the neck of the bottle. They began tapping with a bat ... From 1827 on, appeared on the market of butchering machines in Champagne, but it was not until the middle of the century that these machines were really effective. To keep the cork in place, during the fermentation, it was tied with a string of two-strand hemp; This operation will be done by hand until the middle of the century. But this one gradually moulded ... and the cork ended by jumping and farewell divine mousse. Wire was therefore added to consolidate the first tying.
It was in 1844 that Adolphe Jacquesson deposited a patent for the invention of metal capsule and the muselet, two major innovations in the world of champagne.
This merchant from Châlons (sur Marne) thus solved the serious problem of loss of wine due to bad weather, the porosity of the plugs or the rotting of the strings.
He therefore had the idea of using tinplate, frosted, laminated, and cutting out the same diameter of the plugs ("the flanks") and replacing the usual twine with wire.
However, it was not until about 1881 to see the first metal caps on the plugs now protected, held by wire wires attached to the neck of the bottle.
Formerly, most champagne capsules had four notches or cuts (only three for the Moët and Chandon, which characterize them) and this until the year 60.
Some, manufactured in Bordeaux between 1900 and 1930, were also equipped with tongues (Pol Roger, Monopole). Still others were provided with a square hole in the middle (Giesler) to allow the cork to breathe.
The vast majority of the capsules are made of tinplate, some more sought after are made of copper or aluminum; Steel being during the Great War intended for less peaceful uses.
At the beginning of their use, these capsules all had a virtually identical appearance and covered the caps without distinction of brand or provenance .......
At the end of the 19th century, it was the idea to stamp the word "Champagne" which appeared in relief, often accompanied by a star. Then also paint them in different colors.
Little by little, the manufacturers realize that they can take advantage of this small metal space to indicate their name, that of their locality, etc. Initially in tinplate, its decoration will arrive only at the beginning of the century, in relief at first, specifying the name of the owner, sometimes the mark. Then later, the color and the drawings (coats of arms, castles, etc.) will appear that have evolved greatly over time. As for the vintage, it made its appearance in 1906 at the initiative of POL ROGER.
At first, only the major brands are concerned by this phenomenon. The technique allowed its customized application only to the few houses that had the means. After World War II, techniques evolve and allow an affordable cost price. But it was not until 1960 that the so-called "harvesters-manipulators" were sensitized to this problem of the brand.
Today, the evolution of printing techniques, especially pad printing, has enabled the major brands and winegrowers to obtain capsules of beauty, some are really small works of art.
There are two different manufacturing techniques. The screen printing on the one hand, which allows a good color fastness, a high precision of the lines and the colors resistant to the wear of the time and the scratches. On the other hand, pad printing, which allows printing of the colors only one after the other, requires delicate drying and setting operations. This technique, more artisanal, is more often used for small productions.
Good to know :
Appellations: There are three appellations in Champagne:
Appellation Champagne Controlee
Appellation Wine of the Coteaux de Champagne Controlled
Appellation Rosé des Ryceys Controlee (small production, area delineated in pink on the map)
Further coded information can be found on the labels:
Nm: Negotiating manipulator. A manipulative trader is a natural or legal person who buys grapes, musts or wines and ensures their development in his premises.
Rm: Harvesting handler. A manipulating harvester ensures the
Rc: Collector-cooperator. He develops his cuvée as a cooperative, but takes it back for its marketing.
Cm: Cooperative of manipulation. A cooperative of manipulation develops, in its premises, the wines coming from the grapes of its adherents.
Rc: Collecting cooperator. A cooperative harvester takes over from its cooperative the wines being prepared or ready to be marketed to customers.
Nd: Distributor trading. He buys wines in bottles, but he lays his own label.
Ma: Auxiliary mark. It is the customer who places his label on the bottle. For example: hypermarkets buy lots of bottles from several producers and then label them with their brand.
Some indications may appear:
White champagne is a champagne made from white grapes.
The cuvées mean that the wines come from an assemblage of at least 75% of whites of blacks.
Millésimé: the quality of the wines is sufficient to dispense with a reinforcement of the reserve wines.
Not vintage: mixture of several normal years.
It should be borne in mind that Champagne is a region apart. Indeed, unlike other regions where the winemaker seeks to first transmit a bit of its terroir through its wine, subject to the vagaries of different years, Champagne must always produce the same product. Champagne is a globally recognized product and there can be no bad Champagne. It is for this reason that this region sometimes has the right to Chaptaliser and to mix the different years.
Champagne also produces still wines under the name Vin de Coteaux de Champagne Contrôlée, such as Bouzy, a very good red wine from the region.