Champagne – A brief introduction

2009 - Vendanges Marie m

The wine of Champagne was first mentioned in the history books in 496 when Bishop Saint Remi baptised Clovis, King of the Franks in Reims Cathedral. The region’s close proximity to Paris promoted its early economic success but also put the villages and vineyards in the path of marching armies on their way to the French capital. Today Champagne grapes are sourced from more than a hundred different villages and cultivated by some 18,000 growers with a strictly controlled 34,000 hectares in a very marginal wine producing area (50’N), where the average daily temperature during the growing season is 10.2′. Interestingly the major Champagne houses own just 10% of the land but account for more than 80% of annual Champagne sales.

Champagne is renowned the world over as the natural partner for any event where celebration, luxury and romance are the themes. What’s more, Champagne tastes fabulous, is a proven anti-depressant and its even good for your waistline (Champagne is in fact a mild diuretic!). There are very scientific reasons behind its expense and unique position in the wine world – so “Champagne” also makes for fabulous table talk and a natural sharing choice for appreciation by all sorts of different audiences and occasions.

CJ Vue De Monde Lunch - Champagnes we tried

What’s the difference between Champagne & Sparkling Wine?

Champagne is a sparkling wine style unique to the Champagne region and produced from the classic varieties of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. The final product – precious world-renowned wines are a result of the combined effects of soil, orientation, climate and cultivation practises as well as history and commerce.

This is the definition of “terroir”. As they say in France “Il n’est champagne que de la Champagne” <Le champagne (the wine) can only come from La Champagne (the region)>.

The term ‘sparkling wine’ covers all other carbonated wines. From inexpensive fizzy wines often made from high yield, lower flavoured varieties such as chenin blanc, colombard, trebbiano and muscadelle, through to medium-quality wines which tend to be made from Semillon and high yield chardonnay grown in warmer climates, only wine made in the Champagne region of France, using  grapes grown in Champagne from prescribed methods of planting and production, are entitled to use the prestigious brand name ‘champagne’.

Even world class English and Australian premium sparkling wines, made from a blend of the same grapes as used in Champagne, cannot misuse the name ‘champagne’ because to do so would be confusing to consumers and illegally trading off the Champagne region’s hard won reputation for quality.

To learn more about champagne add Champagne Jayne as a special ingredient to your next event. Contact Dianne Lofts e: dianne@champagnejayne.com or phone m: +61 (0) 412 756 073

 

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