The Champagne Region
The region - CHAMPAGNE - the land of bubbles!
The Champagne region is located east of Paris, along the Marne, Vesle and Aisne rivers. The wine region starts 140 kilometres from Paris, around the city of Meaux and stretches along the Marne river to the city of Epernay.
The Champagne terroir is the only one of its kind. Its features are:
- northern location - located at the northern edges of the wine-growing world. Champagne is France’s most northerly wine region
- rugged climate - with cool winters and sunny summers and autumns, the average temperature in the region is around 11 to 12 C
- distinctive soil type - being a predominantly chalky area with a thin layer of topsoil which provides perfect drainage for the vines, and is also an excellent base which reflects the heat of the sun to help ripen the grapes
- hillside vineyards - rolling countryside with south-facing slopes.
The principal grapes grown in the region are pinot noir, chardonnay 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 Vallée de la Marne region. The Côte des Blancs is dedicated almost exclusively to chardonnay.
The region 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 centuries.
Today the vineyards cover 34,000 hectares and produce 25 million bottles annually. All 300 Champagne villages scattered around the district are rated for the grape quality potential, and the top 17 are designated as “Grand Cru” vineyards. The best known of these are Bouzy, Aÿ, Sillery and Le Mesnil.
CHAMPAGNE – the BEST known wine in the world?
Whenever we think of celebration we think ‘Champagne” and while the wine is known worldwide, the wine region is not really well known. You know the world famous champagne houses by name and reputation, you have enjoyed them on great occasions, but just where and how is it made? Just how long did your bottle lie in a chalk cellar? How do those bubbles get in the bottle? And what makes this region so special and so different?
So let us take you on a wine and food tour of Champagne.
What makes this a great area for wine and food lovers?
It has been said that you should not eat food with champagne, however if you must then oysters, caviar, foie gras, or smoked salmon will make a good match. But while you are enjoying the world-famous drink spare a thought for some of the region's culinary delights
The region’s best known dish is Carbonnade de Boeuf, in which beef is braised with onions and beer. You are in the land of cow’s milk cheeses, in particular Chaource, a mild cheese smelling of mushrooms; and Langres, a cheese with a hollow top into which brandy is poured before eating. So enjoy your champagne before tucking into some hearty northern dishes washed down with a local beer or cider.
Vineyards - that stretch for miles flourish on chalky sloping hillsides that are topped with groups of trees.
Champagne caves - large spectacular caves can be visited under the cities of Reims, Epernay, Ay and Chalons-en-Champagne, as well as in many towns and villages in the region..
Chateaux - the region has more than its share of very special buildings of great character.
Historical wine villages - famous champagne villages like Rilly-la-Montagne and Verzy.
Forests - vast, magnificent forests, preserves and parks with wildlife abound throughout the region.
Landscape - a land of striking geographical features from rolling hills, wine-growing slopes, cereal plains, wooded valleys, wide, tranquil rivers, vast lakes and streams.
Reims- the city of coronation of French kings for centuries with its wonderful cathedral, one of the most beautiful in Europe.
Epernay- the capital of Champagne.
Hautvillers- a lively vigneron village that is famous for its abbey where the celebrated Dom Perignon was the cellar-master.
Unique foods and cuisine - Start your day in the home of champagne with a glass of the world-famous drink for breakfast; enjoy it anytime with oysters, caviar, foie gras, or smoked salmon; or in the evening celebrate the joy of life.
The Toasts of TOASTS!
If unlike Cole Porter, in the hit musical Anything Goes, you do get your kicks from champagne, then come and kick your heels up in the region of origin, CHAMPAGNE!
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