Do You Know Where Champagne Gets Its Name

Champagne is not only the name of a sparkling wine, but the name of the place that it comes from. The area that it comes from is cooler and has a shorter growing season than that of the typical area where vineyards are found. About one hundred miles northeast of Paris, near the Belgian border is the largest area. Chalky soils are the best for growing the vineyards because they provide natural moisture regulation with good drainage. The chalk also reflects the sunshine and heat upward to the grape and within to the roots. There is also a thin layer of topsoil receives the needed addition of fertilizer from those that care for the vineyards, called vintners.

Some of the vintners care for the vineyards part time. Although there are other zones the three main zones here are Cote des Blancs, the Vallee de la Marne, and Montagne de Reims. The best and biggest are in the department of the Marne. The minimum temperature required to ripen grapes is fifty degrees Fahrenheit: ten degree Celsius. They also must be located high enough to be clear of frost which is ninety meters or two hundred ninety five feet but yet low enough to be sheltered from extreme heat which is below two hundred ten meters or six hundred eighty nine feet. Great examples of a location such as this are Montagne de Reims, Grand and Premier Cru.

Grand and Premier Cru grows primarily Pinot Noir. Montagne produces some of the world's best champagne due to its anomalous microclimate. Vallee de la Marne has vineyards that produce mostly Pinot Meunier. A wonderful Chardonnay is produced in Cote de Blancs.

Cote de Sezanne may be a new comer to the production of champagne but the southern location but its southern location allows for the grapes to ripen better than many of the other areas. The furthest south region brings you to the Aube where the temperature does have greater temperature extremes. It has numerous blends of champagne. You may not have heard of this area though because it is much less well known than the others.

Theoretically the best way to produce the best champagne is to mix together the best features of all the best grapes from all of the different areas. Each area stores millions of gallons of wine from the various vineyards for just such a purpose. The blends are produced from these varieties.

Pinot Meunier is the most commanding Champagne variety. It makes up nearly forty percent of the total acreage and makes up the foundation for all but those that are the most exclusive champagnes. Coming in at a close second is Pinot Noir with about thirty five percent of the total acreage.

This makes up much of the longevity of champagne. Chardonnay makes up for the remaining twenty five percents and it also adds exquisiteness.

Gregg Hall is an author living in Navarre Florida. Find more about this as well as champagne gift baskets at

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