By Kori ~ May 3rd, 2011.
This week’s Wine Word of the Week is Champagne.
Official definition from Jancis Robinson’s The Oxford Companion to Wine:
Champagne is a name derived from the Latin term Campania, originally used to describe the rolling open countryside just north of Rome. In the early Middle Ages, it became applied to a province in north east France. It is now divided into the so-called ‘Champagne pouilleuse,’ the once-barren but now cereal-growing chalky plains east of Rheims, and the ‘Champagne viticole’ (capital letters indicate the geographical region while lower case is used for the wine).
Champagne, with its three champagne towns Rheims (Reims in French), Epernay, and Ay, was the first region to make sparkling wine in any quantity and historically the name champagne became synonymous with the finest, although Champagne is now responsibly for less than one bottle in 12 of total world production of sparkling wine. ….
In the past, a number of grape varieties were planted in Champagne. But today almost the whole vineyard is planted with three: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. ….
Layman’s terms from Kori:
The Champagne region of France is one of the coldest and most northerly winegrowing regions in the world, which is why it is best suited to sparkling wine. Champagne is the most well-known sparkling wine in the world, but it can only be called Champagne if it is produced in the Champagne region of France. Champagne is produced from any or all of the three grape varieties allowed for sparkling wine production in the Champagne region: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. The majority of Champagne, about 85 percent, is non-vintage and produced in a “house style” by blending wines from several vintages. In the best years, a vintage Champagne is produced in which all of the wine is from the year indicated on the bottle.
Filed under: Wine Word of the Week