Home to the world’s most famous and loved sparkling wine, the Champagne region comprises of 83,000 acres of vines and is France’s most northern region, located to the north east of Paris. All of its wines are made in the traditional method which means the wines undergo a secondary fermentation in bottle. This method of production results in finer, more persistent bubbles and a rich complex flavour.

The region is home to around 15,000 growers and 300 Champagne houses. The best 24 of these houses are organised into the Club des Grandes Marques, the participants being: Ayala, Billecart-Salmon, Bollinger, Canard- Duchêne, Deutz, Dom Pérignon, Heidsieck & Co. Monopole, Henriot, Krug, Lanson, Laurent-Perrier, Moët & Chandon, G.H. Mumm, Perrier Jouët, Joseph Perrier, Piper-Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Pommery, Ch. & A Prieur, Louis Roederer, Ruinart, Salon, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin.

Champagne produces both white and rosé wines using a combination of three grapes – Pinot Noir, which adds red fruit flavours; Pinot Meunier, which adds richness and apple flavours; Chardonnay, which adds citrus and marzipan flavours. These three grapes are used in different combinations according to the style of wine produced and the individual house’s style. Some producers, like Bollinger, utilise a high proportion of Pinot Noir to give their wine extra weight, while others, like Joseph Perrier, opt for a closer ratio Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to give the wine a slightly leaner, elegant style.

The region produces six main styles of wine – Non-vintage, Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, Rosé, Vintage and Prestige/Luxury Cuvée.

  • Non-vintage (NV): aged for a minimum of 15 months, non-vintage Champagne is blended from grapes from multiple vintages. The wines are made in a consistent style so will remain as close to identical as possible from year to year.
  • Rosé: produced by either leaving the clear juice of Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier to macerate on their skins or by adding a small amount of locally produced red wine to the sparkling cuvee. Only a few houses, including Laurent Perrier, utilise the first method (called saigneé) as it is more costly and highly skilled.
  • Blanc de Blancs: literally ‘white from white’. These wines are made exclusively from Chardonnay.
  • Blanc de Noirs: made exclusively from the red grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (white from black).
  • Vintage: produced with grapes from a single year. These wines are only made in excellent years and must be aged for a minimum of 36 months, although most producers release them when they are at least six years old. These wines have excellent ageing potential.
  • Prestige/Luxury Cuvée: a house’s flagship wine. This premium vintage Cuvée will be made from the best possible grapes in only the most exceptional vintages. Louis Roederer’s Cristal, Moët & Chandon’s Dom Pérignon and Pol Roger’s Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill are famous examples of this style.
Below you can view our hand-picked selection of Champagne available to buy in store or online at Hennings Wine Merchants.

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