Impact of temperature conditions on champagne

eProvenance, a Franco-American company providing advanced technology solutions to monitor fine wine during transport and storage, has revealed the results of a study conducted with the CIVC (Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne) to determine the impact of heat on Champagne. The wines were exposed to heat over periods of 3, 7, 14, and 28 days, as compared to control bottles kept at an ideal temperature of 15°C.

“This study confirmed that prolonged exposure of wines to high temperatures, especially above 30°C during storage or transport, is detrimental to the sensory qualities of a wine and its color. It can also impact the performance of the cork,” stated Michel Valade, head of the CIVC’s technical and environmental division.

Data eProvenance has collected on a variety of shipments, in terms of routes, shipping conditions (dry vs reefer), temperature exposure and duration, provides clear evidence of Champagne wines being subjected to inappropriate conditions. We also have data indicating that conditions improve over time when monitoring is implemented and maintained.

Initial investigations began in 2014 in conjunction with the Lycée viticole d’Avize and SOFRALAB, a provider of oenological products and services, and continued with a 2015/2016 study of the Champagne distribution chain, supported by the Commission Technique de l’UOEF Champagne and the Comité de Champagne of the CIVC.

Studies simulated a variety of typical temperature conditions during transport and storage in order to analyze the physicochemical and organoleptic impact on the Champagne wines.

The Champagne Committee, in collaboration with eProvenance, set up a shipment simulation protocol in climate chambers, making it possible to pinpoint the impact of temperature on both white and rose champagne over different exposure durations.
The selected champagnes underwent a precise protocol allowing the analysis and comparison between the control wine (kept cellared at 15°C) and those that were placed in isothermal ovens.

A panel of CIVC experts conducted blind, three-way tasting to determine which champagne was different and why during two tastings: the first just after exposure to high temperatures, and the second two months after this exposure.

Results: Heat was found to have an impact on the closure’s shape, the wine color (for both brut and rosé), uncorking force, and diminishing fruit aromas. Exposure of 7 to 14 days at 30°C and higher are problematic, and only three days at 45°C caused degradation of wine quality. Reduction in flavors/aromas appeared, notably sulfur notes, rubber and cooked vegetable flavors.

The results were presented to several Champagne producers and followed by a tasting at which participants had the opportunity to judge for themselves how these extreme temperatures could affect the quality of the wine. Representatives from a wide range of Champagne houses attended the event, including:

  • Cattier
  • Champagne Drappier
  • Champagne Jacquinot & Fils
  • COGEVI Champagne Collet
  • Gardet
  • J. de T elmont
  • Lanson International
  • Mailly Grand Cru
  • Nicolas Feuillatte
  • Pannier Covama
  • Vranken Pommery

All the attendees had an opportunity to taste one of the Champagne wines exposed to 45°C and found the aromas of the wine to be clearly damaged.

“The participation in this event and interest in the study results by so many important Champagne houses indicates their desire to protect their carefully crafted wines for the full enjoyment of their customers,” noted eProvenance Founder, Eric Vogt.

“I found this study very interesting. It allows us to realize what the consumer may experience if proper transport conditions have not be maintained, especially for sulfur-free Champagne,” commented Hugo Drappier, Champagne Drappier.