Given the price per kilo of grapes in Champagne, there is no wonder that wine makers from the region choose to focus on the sparkling wine that is revered around the world and attracts an equally impressive purchase price. However, there are some other products that are produced in the region which are rarely seen, not sold in commercial quantities and are rarely talked about by anyone other than the winemaker. One of our favourite products from the region is Ratafia – expensive for the category due to where it comes from but fabulously decadent in flavour.
Ratafia is made using the grape juice of the third or fourth press of the grapes that would be other wise considered waste. Most champagne houses only use the first press – the cuvee – of the grape juice and are forbidden from using the third press, known as Rebeche, and beyond. This grape juice is then blended with a spirit to raise the alcohol level to about 18 degrees then aged.
Ratafia has no fizz unlike champagne and is rich and loaded with sweetness and spice. The Ratafia from Chevreux-Bournazel is made in minuscule quantities and that is not surprising given that the entire estate is only 0.4 hectares! Expect candied cherry fruit, honey, nuts and mouth-filling deliciousness. Serve with a rich dessert.