Once virtually faded into obscurity, Champagne is just now bubbling up again, with new styles and talented small producers. New generations have discovered that there is really no occasion for which this noble drink would be inappropriate.
History and geography
Champagne – a fabulous drink associated with celebration and luxury. Champagne used to be the drink of the rich, its famous admirers including Napoleon, Winston Churchill and Madame Bollinger.It all began in a monastery in Hautvillers, in 1668. It was Dom Pérignon, a monk, who made wine sparkle and developed the art of blending different varieties from different areas into special cuvées. He is also credited with introducing the cork.Champagne consists of three main areas: Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne and Côte des Blancs. The dominant soils are limestone enriched with loam.
Champagne is one of the most northerly winegrowing areas in the world. The grapes develop very slowly, so they cannot always ripen completely. This results in a high acid content, which is advantageous for the production of sparkling wine.
Wines and grape varieties
Mainly white and rosé sparkling wines. A small quantity of still red and white wines such as Coteaux champenois and Rosé de Riceys.Winemakers' Champagne is often based on grapes from a single commune or not many more, and sometimes from a single vineyard site. This has made Champagne a really interesting, trendy wine area. Following the example of Burgundy, the character of wines from individual communes can now be compared.
Vineyard area and production volume
About 29,000 hectares, some 2.3 million hectolitres per year. 18,000 or so winegrowers sell their grapes to champagne houses, and there are also a few cooperatives.