- Champagne comes only from the Champagne region of France, a legally geographic area, consisting of about 85,000 acres (roughly 35,000 hectares) of vines, where a unique combination of cool climate and ancient, chalky soils are ideal for the production of sparkling wine.
Located about 90 miles northeast of Paris, Champagne as a region represents less than .5% of the world’s vineyards. Along with the major cities of Epernay and Reims, the region includes about 300 small villages. The sub-regions of Montagne de Reims and the Vallée de la Marne are responsible for the majority of the red grape production in Champagne, while the Côte des Blanc is home to most of the region’s Chardonnay.
- The wine producing villages of Champagne, numbering around 300, are rated according to the quality of their fruit. Only 17 villages have the highest rating of Grand Cru, and only 40 have the second highest ranking of Premier Cru.
- The Champagne region includes 19,000 growers but only 264 Champagne producing houses, like Moët & Chandon, Krug, Veuve Clicquot, Dom Perignon and Ruinart. These houses are responsible for 71% of Champagne sales.
- Champagne is generally made from three grape varieties, the white grape Chardonnay and the red grapes Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, resulting in both white and rosé versions.
- Unlike some sparkling wines, all Champagne has natural bubbles, created by a secondary fermentation in the bottle using a labor intensive method called méthode Champenoise.
- About 90% of Champagne is non-vintage, a blend of wines from several vintages. However, in exceptional years producers may make a vintage Champagne including at least 85% of the grapes from vintage year. The finest wine of a house is referred to as its tête de cuvee.
- Non-vintage Champagne must be aged a minimum of fifteen months. Vintage Champagne, along with rosé Champagne, is aged a minimum of three years. The decomposition of yeast during aging is what gives Champagne its distinctive bready aromas.
- Dosage refers to the final amount of sugar added to balance the vibrant acidity of Champagne at the time of bottling. From driest to sweetest, the styles of Champagne according to dosage are: Brut Nature, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Dry, Demi-Sec, Doux.