French Champagne Wines

French Rhône Wines

The Champagne district is the most northerly wine region of French, located some ninety miles northeast of Paris. Originally, the wines of Champagne were still. The cellar master at the Abbey of Hautvillers, a certain Pierre Pérignon (1639-1715), developed a system of blending, whereby the wines from different areas in Champagne and made from different grape varieties, were blended together.

Although Dom Pérignon has been credited as being the inventor of sparkling Champagne, there is little real evidence to support this. There are claims that it was the English who put the sparkle into imported Champagne wines, in the seventeenth century. One school of thought argues that warm weather caused the wine to undergo a secondary fermentation in the barrels in which it was exported.

Champagne Grapes

The region of Champagne has a marginal climate and a unique form of chalk soil covered by a thin layer of richer top soil. Three important grape varieties are grown - Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. The majority of the vines are planted in the Montagne de Reims (Pinot Noir), Vallée de la Marne (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier), Côte des Blancs (Chardonnay), Cote de Sezanne and Aube (Pinot Noi).

Champagne is a protected name. Only sparkling wines from this region made by the Champagne method are allowed to carry the name on the label.

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