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The First Champagne: "I am drinking stars!"

In the 1690, a blind Benedictine monk named Dom Perignon made some very significant developments as cellar master at the Abbey of Hautvillers in Epernay. He had the idea to harvest selectively, over a period of days rather than all at once, so that only the ripest fruit was taken with each pass. He also is credited with inventing the Coquard or "basket" wine press and using it to make the first "Blanc de Noir". Another of his major developments was to blend wines of different vineyards and varieties to achieve better balance between their individual characteristics. He was an excellent taster and his cuvée system is still followed closely to this day by the house of Moêt & Chandon to produce their finest Champagne. Finally, although corks had already been used by the Romans as closures for wine bottles, he found, that by securing these stoppers in the bottles with string, he could retain the sparkle for long periods of time.

 

His celebrated remark "I am drinking stars" brought him great fame, but Dom Perignon did not, in fact, "invent" Champagne. There is even a possibility he may have uttered his phrase, not out of jubilation, but rather from remorse. It is fairly certain that Frere Perignon long attempted to find a way to remove or prevent the bubbles, before he accepted and embraced them. His innovations of selective harvesting and blending were probable experiments towards this end

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The best wines of the 1690 vintage

Name Tb Producer Location
1 Tokaji Imperial 92.0 Tokaji Imperial Royal Saxon Tokaji-Hegyalja, Hungary

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