The Champagne wine region is a historic province in the northeast of France. The area is best known for the production of the sparkling white wine that bears the region's name. EU law and the laws of most countries reserve the term Champagne exclusively for wines that come from this region located about 100 miles (160 km) east of Paris. The viticultural boundaries of Champagne are legally defined and split into five wine producing districts within the administrative province-the Aube, Cote des Blancs, Cote de Sezanne, Montagne de Reims, and Vallee de la Marne. The towns of Reims and Épernay are the commercial centers of the area.
In France the history of the Champagne wine region has had a significant role in the development of this unique terroir. The area's close proximity to Paris promoted the regions economic success in its wine trade but also put the villages and vineyards in the path of marching armies on their way to the French capital. Despite the frequency of these military conflict, the regions developed a reputation for quality wine production in the early Middle Ages and was able to continue that reputation as the region's producers began making sparkling wine with the advent of the great Champagne houses in the 17th and 18th century. The principal grapes grown in the region include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Pinot Noir is the most widely planted grape in the Aube region and grows very well in Montagne de Reims. Pinot Meunier is the dominant grape in the Vallee de la Marne region. The Cote des Blancs is dedicated almost exclusively to Chardonnay.
Only wine producers using grapes produced in Champagne’s vineyards – land that spans approximately 70,000 acres – can label their bottles with this title. In other words, sparkling wines produced in Italy such as Prosecco or Franciacorta, or any other part of the world for that matter, cannot be called Champagne according to the Champagne region’s strict appellation laws. Champagne’s cool climate and chalky-sub soils produce the Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes, which yield Champagne’s special quality and taste.
Several different varieties and styles are produced using a blend of these grapes to create a diverse range of flavors. Champagne also varies in color, ranging from a deep yellow, to a light pink or rosé. All Champagne starts off as still wine. Yet it is Champagne’s Méthode champenoise, unique history and fun sparkle that make it one of the most beloved drinks for toasting off any celebration.