The three grape varieties permitted for inclusion in genuine Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.
Armand de Brignac cuvées derive their light, racy effervescence from the quality of our Chardonnay grapes, while Pinot Noir lends strength, boldness, and depth of palate. Finally, Pinot Meunier adds roundness, nuance, and fruitiness to the cuvées of our range.
For Armand de Brignac, these grapes are selected from only the finest vineyards in La Marne, including Grand Cru - rated villages like Cramant, Avize, Oger, and Choilly, and Premier Cru towns including Ludes, Rilly-la-Montagne, Villers Allerand, Taissy, Villers Marmery, and Mareuil-sur-Ay.
Harvest & Pressing
In keeping with Champagne's reputation as a celebratory wine, harvest is a joyous time in the vineyards.
This is the time when the grapes are finally ready for their transformation into wine. One might even say that some of the harvest revelry is imparted through the 250 million bubbles in each bottle of Armand de Brignac.
The harvest generally takes place during two weeks in September, although weather sometimes dictates a change of dates. By law, all Champagne grapes must be picked by hand; for these two weeks the vineyards are filled with workers, including the members of our family, who join the house staff in the fields. At the harvest celebration, all take time to enjoy the chateau’s reserve wines, paired alongside traditional country meals. These traditions date back centuries, when our vineyards were owned and tended by King Louis XV’s officers and royalty savored the best wines made by each chateau.
Although many of Champagne’s producers now use industrial-grade, high volume presses, we employ a traditional Coquart press for Armand de Brignac. This ensures a slow and high-quality yield is extracted from our carefully hand-sorted grapes; each bottle is made from a small fraction of the first pressing of the grapes. To earn its classification as a prestige cuvée, Armand de Brignac is made from the most exquisite, richest wine from each harvest. This enables the Champagne to become more complex and subtle as it ages.
Blending & Ageing
After the grapes are pressed, our chateau's father-and-son oenologues create the signature blends that embody the quality and uncompromised individuality of Armand de Brignac.
For each bottling, three distinct vintages from outstanding harvest years are blended together to comprise the final cuvée. The art of blending Champagne varietals and vintages is the most important part of the craft, and allows our winemakers to preserve the house's character from year to year.
When our master oenologues have achieved the perfect formula, Armand de Brignac is bottled by one craftsman using a traditional device. Although this painstaking process limits our output, it enables our expert artisans to ensure that each bottle of Armand de Brignac meets the highest standards of quality and craftsmanship.
After our Champagne has been bottled and sealed, the bottles are stored in a special gated section of the cellars designated for its ideal conditions for ageing these blends. Descending more than 119 steps (over 30 meters) underground, the cellars are considered among the deepest in Champagne and maintain a constant cool temperature conducive to the slow, natural ageing process necessary to create the extraordinary and subtle character of Armand de Brignac.
Remuage & Dégorgement
After ageing for four to five years in the chalk cellars, the bottles are placed in traditional wooden racks to undergo remuage – a centuries-old riddling process.
During remuage, each vessel is turned slightly by hand every day to sift out the sediment which settles in the bottlenecks. A full month of gradual riddling is necessary to completely and perfectly purify the wine without disturbing its natural ageing process. Many Champagne houses now use mechanized riddling devices, but - in keeping with the tradition that informs our entire process - we continue to conduct remuage by hand. After 30 days of turning and sifting, the sediment is poured out - again by hand - in the dégorgement stage.
Following the dégorgement, a special liqueur de dosage is added to the Armand de Brignac blend, made from a closely-guarded family formula.
Created from a blend of the very best still wines from prior harvests and aged for a full year in oaken casks from Burgundy and Champagne, the dosage imparts subtle nuances to the Champagne - as our winemaker puts it, "a touch of soul." This step is especially important in maintaining the unique character of Armand de Brignac: no other wine in the world includes this same combination of meticulously-selected vintages from our private terroir - nor do any other Champagnes age their dosage - but not the main cuvée - in oak.
As part of our finishing process, the bottles are corked and sealed only as quickly as our artisans can operate the bottling press.
The ornate, delicate Armand de Brignac bottles must be handled with care by hand due to the bottle’s special shape and plating. After the cork and metal muselet are added, a black capsule stamped with the Armand de Brignac crest is secured. During the last stage of production, four pewter labels are applied to the bottle and polished by hand, making every bottle a unique and distinctive work of art. When two bottles are placed side by side, subtle differences can be seen in the fine details of the pewter and in the hue and texture of the beaten metal. One thing holds true for every bottle of Armand de Brignac - the buttery-soft, creamy, and complex Champagne within.