Champagne has been a favorite indulgence of royals and high society for centuries. As production increased, it became more and more accessible to everyone, and now, we all feel like kings and queens when we pop a bottle of bubbly. The Champagne region of France shot to fame when Clovis, the first king of the Francs, was baptized there in the 1st century, establishing it as the coronation spot for almost all future kings of France. Wine is said to have flown greatly and freely at these events, making the wine from this region officially known as the “wine of kings.”
The history of Champagne as the bubbly drink we all know and love dates back to the 10th century when quick changes in temperature from freezing winters to hot summers unintentionally revealed the process of secondary fermentation, which helps to create the sparkling effect. In the 17th century Dom Pierre Pérignon, a Benedictine monk, started using this process purposefully, and he became a pioneer in mass-creating the world’s first sparkling wine in the region.
In the 18th century, the popularity of Champagne was heavily influenced by the wealthy and powerful aristocracy of the time, who were looking for ways to add a luxurious element to their feasts. The development of Champagne as a status symbol was helped by the invention of the corked bottle, which allowed the sparkling wine to be stored and transported without losing its effervescence.
In the 19th century, the production of Champagne became more industrialized, and the first Champagne Houses were established. These Champagne Houses developed elaborate methods of making Champagne and were responsible for the creation of several key Champagne styles, such as Brut—which is dry and non-sweet—and Demi-Sec, which is slightly sweet.
CHAMPAGNE SUBREGIONS OF NOTE
Today, the Champagne region of France is divided into multiple distinct subregions, all of which produce their own style of Champagne. Some subregions include Montagne de Reims, Côte des Blancs, Côte des Bar, Vallée de la Marne, and Côte de S
ézanne. Each subregion has its own climate, soil, and focus on grape varieties, which—when combined with the unique production methods of the Champagne Houses—results in a wide range of styles to choose from. Here’s what to expect from some of these subregions:
- Montagne de Reims
This region produces Champagne with a rich, full body, as well as some of the most famous sparkling wines in the world. It is characterized by its rolling hills and chalk soils. Some of the biggest House names are in this area.
- Côte des Blancs
This region is renowned for its chardonnay-based wines, which are characterized by their fresh, mineral-driven flavors. The area is home to six grand cru villages and is said to have some of the most ideal conditions for growing the vines.
- Côte des Bar
This is home to some of the boldest wines in all of Champagne, with pinot noir grapes prevalent and intense flavors of stone fruits and citrus. The soils provide the perfect environment for producing full-bodied wines, and the region is famous for its cadoles—igloo-shaped huts—that help to maintain thermal neutrality.
With so many options, choosing the right bottle of bubbly for a special occasion can be overwhelming. Stop in to visit us at New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlet, and we’ll point you in the right direction. Or take your pick from one of our featured Champagnes, as each of these recommendations makes a perfect choice for a celebration or casual night on the couch—because you deserve a cold glass no matter what you are doing!