The Champagne wine region of France is one of its most famous. Situated around the city of Riems it is one of the most northerly wine producing areas in France.
There are five major sub-regions in the Champagne appellation. The first is Montagne de Riems which is famous for its Pinot Noir grapes grown in calcareous soils giving rise to rich, flavoursome champagnes. The sub-region supports nine grand cru villages, namely Louvois, Bouzy, Ambonnay, Verzy, Verzenay, Mailly, Beaumont-sur-Vesle, Sillery and Puisieux.
Next is the Côtes des Blancs which lies south of Epernay and which shares the same calcareous soils as the Montagne de Riems. The main differences between these two regions is that the Côtes des Blancs is predominantly planted with Chardonnay which ripens slowly on the east-facing slopes. It is also the site of 6 of the grand cru villages, namely Oiry, Chouilly, Cramant, Avize, Oger and Mesnil-sur-Oger.
Also mainly planted to Chardonnay is the Côtes de Sezanne, a rapidly emerging area which does not, as yet, support any grand cru villages.
The next area is the Valle de la Marne where Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are all found. There are two grand cru villages (Ay and Tours-sur-Marne) in this sub-region.
The southern-most area is the Aube where Pinot Noir is mostly planted.
Here sparkling wine reaches its ultimate expression. Great labels such as Bollinger, Salon, Vilmart, Krug and Roederer are well known throughout the world. If you can’t afford these then try the lovely Pol Roger which is always good.
The past ten years has seen the emergence of a number of excellent small producers who used to sell their grapes to the large houses but who now make their own wine. They have become known as ‘grower champagnes’. Also look for champagnes that are labelled as zero dosage. This means that sugar hasn’t been added to assist the fermentation. A very good ‘zero dosage’ grower champagne is Veuve Fourny. (Food Tourist)
Premium Australian Chardonnay has evolved dramatically from the rich, ripe full flavored versions of the late 1900’s.
The sourcing of fruit from cooler climate areas combined with a more gentle touch with regards to oak use, lees contact and malolactic conversion has led to a more restrained balanced, age-worthy style.
The Bourgogne winegrowing region of France is also a showcase for this varietal with more than 80% planted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.(Wine Australia)
Chardonnay is also one of the main varieties used in the French appellation of Champagne. About 85 to 90 percent of Champagnes are a blend of about 2/3 red grapes and 1/3 Chardonnay. A few Champagnes (less than 5 percent) are 100 percent Chardonnay and are called blanc de blancs.