For a very long time, Champagne was a still wine, but already quite famous: it was the « royal wine », served at the Reims cathedral for the coronation of the French kings. Then, when it started to become a sparkling wine, the bottles were exploding, and it became the « devil’s wine »…
Nowadays around 16 000 winegrowers and 300 champagne Houses produce every year more than 300 millions of bottles, sold in France but also abroad (190 different countries). There are two main departments for the production, Marne and Aube, but there are three other in the designation of origin: Haute-Marne, Seine-et-Marne and Aisne.
The main grape varieties are the pinot noir (Montagne de Reims, Côte des Bar), the pinot meunier (Epernay and the Marne valley) and the chardonnay (Côte des Blancs and Sézannais). Some very old grape varieties are also cultivated, like the pinot blanc, the pinot gris, the petit meslier and the arbane.
There are two other types of wines (also under designation of origin) in Champagne, which are « coteaux champenois » and « rosé des Riceys », and some traditional spirits like Ratafia, Marc de Champagne, Fine de Champagne but also Prunelle de Troyes.
From its finest restaurants to its best specialties, the region has a true hidden treasure.
The region is producing two local cheeses, from cow milk: the Chaource (a soft rind cheese), and the Langres (a creamy soft rind cheese).
Concerning the meats, the lamb and the female turkey from the Ardennes, the poultry or the range chicken form Champagne are among the most renowned.
Charcuterie is also a big deal in this region, with for instance the famous andouillette from Troyes, the withe pudding from Rethel, the ham from Reims or the country ham from the Ardennes
Last but not least, there are many famous desserts in the region: the « biscuits roses » from Reims, the « bouchons » with champagne liquor taste, the sugar pie or the ginger cake from Reims.
The Champagne region has a very specific place in the French history.
The best demonstration of this would be the Reims cathedral: cradle of the French kings’ coronation, from 816 with Louis le Pieux (Charlemagne’s son) to 1825 with the coronation of Charles X.
Many wars let their traces in this region: for instance, the Valmy battle in 1792 took place here. This very important victory of the French soldiers over the Prussian army was the founding step of the Fisrt French Republic.
The First World War, with the Marne battle, and the Second World War, with the surrender treaty signed in Reims in the night of the 7-8 of May 1945, are other very important dates of the French history.
It should be noted that Reims (in 511) and Troyes (in 1419) were both capitals of the French kingdom!
The terroir in Champagne is unique: it’s the result of an incredible geological formation (landslide of the Parisian basin and Alpine orogeny). Consequently, we have here chalky subsoil, which represents a key element for the roots of the vines (it allows a perfect drainage of the soil) but also for the wine cellars: thanks to the chalk, there is no need for air conditioning in the Champagne cellar!
Its regional parks, its big lakes but also the high amount of flowers (Marne is the most flowered department of the country) are making Champagne a region with also a unique natural heritage.