The 5-minute essential guide to champagne


ChampagneCultural HeritageFood and Wine

Le chic de la bouteille de champagne, vu par l'illustratrice Mathilde Bel
© Mathilde Bel - Le chic de la bouteille de champagne, vu par l'illustratrice Mathilde Bel

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 14 March 2024, updated on 15 April 2024

Champagne is a region proud of its vineyards and its people. They not only protected their region, but also increased its status through a unique product, synonymous with refinement. But what’s hidden behind the bubbles that help us toast good news? Got 5 minutes? We’ll tell you all you need to know about Champagne.

Champagne is a wine.

A fact you could be forgiven for overlooking, so much does the name speak for itself. Its success has made champagne a brand of its own, but it’s important to remember that it is, first and foremost, a type of wine. A wine from the sparkling family of wines, as opposed to the still varieties.

The Champagne region is recognised by UNESCO.

On 4 July 4th 2015, the “Hillsides, Houses, and Cellars of Champagne” were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This highest of distinctions shines. The spotlight on far more than a landscape of vineyards; it acknowledges the work of an industry that has distributed, spread, and protected a unique product.

It's just bubbly if it's not from Champagne.

The appellation’s production area was set by a law passed in 1927, covering 34,000 hectares. A victim of its own success, champagne has had its fair share of imposters. Only wines grown, harvested, and made in the official Champagne region in France can be called champagne!

Champagne has a multi-faceted personality.

Champagne’s vineyards can be divided into four main regions. The northernmost is Montagne de Reims, where pinot noir grapes produce robust, generous wines, while the pinot meunier grown in the Marne Valley brings its full fruity flavour to rosé champagnes. South of Épernay, the Côte des Blancs and its chalky soil is the promised land for elegant chardonnay, and further south still, the Côte des Bar and its continental climate produces a lighter pinot noir. But within these larger areas lies a mosaic of smaller terroir, with each parcel of land producing a wine with its own personality.

Blanc de blanc or blanc de noir? It’s a question of colour.

Blanc de blancs champagne is made using chardonnay, a white grape. That’s easy to grasp! A blanc de noirschampagne is made using only black grapes (Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier). Two grape varieties with darker skin and white flesh.

It’s the only French wine that can be made by mixing red wine and white wine.

There are two ways to make rosé champagne. A short maceration of black grapes, extracting some of their colour, or by mixing still white and red wine from the appellation.

The Champagne method is an interplanetary benchmark.

The Champagne (or traditional) method is the meticulously defined winemaking process used to make champagne. Over the centuries, Champagne’s winemakers learned how to tame the bubbles to make their diverse range of excellent cuvées. As far back as the 18th century, “La Grande Dame” of Champagne, Madame Clicquot, defied convention and perfected the technique.

Champagne is a faithful dining companion.

The diversity of its terroirs, the alchemy of its assemblages, the secrets of its liqueurs de tirage, and the years spent maturing in mysterious vaulted wine cellars combine to produce a whole spectrum of personalities, with something to delight every palate, from aperitif to dessert!

Champagne is a region where the beauty of its landscape and the craftsmanship of its people conspire to produce a unique wine.

Learn more about Champagne

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