"I have tasted the stars!" exclaims blind Benedictine monk Dom Perignon as he first tastes Champagne. Or so the story goes. In reality the famous monk wasn't blind and he never really said this, in fact he never tasted true sparkling Champagne. Furthermore old records show us that the barrels in the cellar at the monastery at Hautvilliers at that time contained almost exclusively still, RED wine!
But so what! The mystique, glamor and allure of Champagne is very real. No where else on earth do terroir and varietals come together so perfectly to produce such an elegant, and distinct sparkling wine. And from nowhere else can you legitamatley call it Champagne. Champagne is not a generic tag for any sparkling wine, but is the protected name of a sparkling wine made from grapes within a legally defined geographical area of France.
Champagne is situated in northeast France and is the country's northern most wine producing region. Millions of years ago this area was an ocean floor and the subsoil of today is made up of the remains of the billions of sea creatures whose shells have since turned to limestone, also called chalk. This layer of limestone runs from Chablis, up through Champagne, under the English Channel and up the White Cliffs of Dover. In fact when I recently tasted Chardonnay from the Cotes de Blancs that had been fermented into wine, but not yet into sparkling wine, I could have sworn I was tasting Chablis!
There are five major districts in Champagne. Each of these districts makes distinctly different wines from one or more of the three legally allowed grape varieties; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunière.
MONTAGNE DE REIMS, The most northern district which grows some of the best Pinot Noir.
CÔTES DES BLANCS, which grows almost exclusively Chardonnay and is some of the most sought after wine in all Champagne.
VALLEE DE LA MARNE, which stretches along the river Marne with its best vineyards located along the rivers north bank with its south facing slopes. The primary grape grown here is Pinot Meunière, but some very good Pinot Noir can be found in Dizy and
CÔTE DE SEZANNE, which grows primarily Chardonnay, but without the finesse of the Côtes des Blancs some 10 miles to the north-east.
L'AUBE, which is the southern most district and is situated closer to Chablis than to the other Champagne districts. Pinot Noir is the primary grape grown here.
The pretty rolling hills of Champagne makes for great touring, though the best places for visits and tastings are in one of the two larger towns, Reims and Epernay. The big Champagne houses all conduct tours and tastings and many include visits to the chalk cellars that honeycomb the subterranean world beneath them. The famous cathedral, Notre-Dame de Reims, is worth a trip all by itself and there are many First World War memorials and battlefields throughout the area.
If you are not inclined to drive by auto, Champagne is only a 45 minute TGV high speed train ride from Paris, making for an easy day trip.
Make an appointment to visit Champagne. Then "Taste The Stars" for yourself.
Ruinart, 4 rue de Crayere, 51053 Reims
Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin, 12 rue du Temple, 51054 Reims
Moët & Chandon, 20 avenue de Champagne, 54120 Epernay
Perrier-Jouet, 26/28 avenue de Champagne, 51200 Epernay
By Anton Maletich October 29, 2017 Source: Go-Wine.com
|Human data||Selling Champagne:
33,805 hectares of which:
|Grape varieties||Pinot Noir 38 %
Meunier 31 %
Chardonnay 31 %
|Harvest||268 million bottles
Yield= 9 164 kg/hectare
|Stocks||1,478 million bottles (including individual reserve)
(At July 31st. 2016)
|Value||4.7 billion euros 2.6 of this for export|
|Shipments||France (52 %) of total production: 157,954,272 bottles
of which (57 %) 89,836,252
is for the Champagne houses and
(43 %) 68,118 020 is for the winegrowers and co-peratives
Export (48 %) of the total production 148 082 097 bottles of which:
(87 %) 129,559,093 is from the Champagne houses.
(13 %) 18,523,004 from the winegrowers and co-operatives
(72 %) 219,395,345 from the Champagne houses
(28 %) 86,641,024 from the winegrowers and co-operatives
|Top ten export markets