Champagne - Is this best and perhaps most famous wine growing region in the world? Perhaps so many would argue. As Lily Bollinger, then owner of House Bollinger once said:
“I drink Champagne when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it -- unless I'm thirsty.”
Though popularity and name proceeds it, the growing area from where a wine must be made in order to be labelled Champagne, is just 34,000 hectares. This may sound like a lot, but if you compare it to say the area of Bordeaux which sits at around 110000 hectares or Rioja at 57000, it looks quite modest.
Permissable Grape Varieties
There are three main grape varieties used in the Champagne region and what they offer in the wine:
- Chardonnay - Grown in the Côte des Blancs area, this white skinned grape aides fresh, elegant and finessed characters. As well, it provides the long ageing capabilities often associated with Champagnes and adds the toasty,
- Pinot Noir - a Pinot Noir dominant Champagne will show excellent body, aromas and structure. It is a variety synonymous with complex flavours and this is why many Champagne houses, including Bollinger use this as their main varietal base.
- Pinot Meunier - Less planted than the other two main varieties, this is great for younger drinking, fruity, floral wines.
Then there are a further four varities that are allowed but rarely used; Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Arbane, and Petit Meslier
Top Producers include:
- Champagne Salon
- Dom Perignon (a single cuvee from house Moët & Chandon)
- Boërl & Kroff
- Armand de Brignac