Champagne wine region
The Champagne wine region is a wine region within the historical province of Champagne in the northeast of France. The area is best known for the production of the sparkling white wine that bears the region's name. EU law and the laws of most countries reserve the term "Champagne" exclusively for wines that come from this region located about 160 kilometres (100 miles) east of Paris. The viticultural boundaries of Champagne are legally defined and split into five wine-producing districts within the historical province: Aube, Côte des Blancs, Côte de Sézanne, Montagne de Reims, and Vallée de la Marne. The towns of Reims and Épernay are the commercial centers of the area. Reims is famous for its cathedral, the venue of the coronation of the French Kings and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Located at the northern edges of France, the history of the Champagne wine region has had a significant role in the development of this unique terroir. The area's proximity to Paris promoted the region's economic success in its wine trade but also put the villages and vineyards in the path of marching armies on their way to the French capital. Despite the frequency of these military conflicts, the region developed a reputation for quality wine production in the early Middle Ages and was able to continue that reputation as the region's producers began making sparkling wine with the advent of the great Champagne houses in the 17th and 18th centuries. The principal grapes grown in the region include Chardonnay, Pinot noir, and Pinot Meunier. Pinot noir is the most widely planted grape in the Aube region and grows very well in Montagne de Reims. Pinot Meunier is the dominant grape in the Vallée de la Marne region. The Côte des Blancs is dedicated almost exclusively to Chardonnay.