The geographical region of Champagne lies 150km to the east of Paris. It is a zone of approximately 34,000 hectares of vineyards, covering 319 villages. Of these villages or ‘crus’, 17 are classified as Grands Cru and 42 as Premiers Crus.
The main growing areas of Champagne
There are four main growing areas within Champagne – Montagne de Reims, Vallee de la Marne, Cote des Blancs and Cote des Bar.
The individual micro-climates of these different areas and villages combining different climate, soil and topography, means that there is enormous diversity within the region.
The northerly location of the Champagne region means that the semi-continental and oceanic climates combine to provide unique wine growing conditions whereby the champagne grapes develop the level of acidity that is required for producing effervescent wines.
The continental weather pattern is dual edged – while it provides a high level of sunshine in the summer, it can also be responsible for severe frost in the winter. The oceanic weather pattern keeps the temperatures down, and there are usually no major fluctuations between different years.
Together these two patterns also ensure a constant, moderate rainfall providing vines with the right amount of water to produce good quality fruit.
Plenty of sunshine in the summer, relatively consistent cool temperatures that don’t fluctuate and consistent rainfall ensures that the grapes don’t become too sweet from over ripening. In fact, in the Champagne region, it is the long drawn out process of ripening that results in the balance of richness, extract and acidity that is the key to the quality and longevity of the wine.