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Information about French Champagnes – the web magazine for visitors to France.

France champagne

Champagne in France

Information about champagnes, types, terms, tips on buying.

United Kingdom budget 2010 – Duty on beer, wine and spirits increased in March 2010. Alcohol duties will also increase by 2% above inflation for two further years from 2013.

According to our calculations this means that a bottle of spirits now costing £20 will in 2014, after the last 2% increase cost 10.41% more in real terms or £22.08.

There are about 2,000 recoltants in France producing Champagne. The production of Champagne is strictly controlled. Whilst the big names spend a lot of money on marketing, a quick browse of any French supermarkets shelves will throw up nearly 100 different champagnes to choose from. We suggest buying a selection and trying them out with your friends before returning to stock up. Deals in the United Kingdom can sometimes be cheaper, but generally they are for short periods and perhaps with quantity limits. Even worst, you may ahve to buy a whole case, a bad move if the Champagne selected is not up to much. Remember that cheap does not always equal good value when shopping for champagne deals in the U.K.

Champagne is the world's most famous wine which must come by law only from the vineyards of the Champagne district around Reims, and are produced from a blend of black and white grapes. It is made either of Chardonnay (Blancs des Blancs), Pinot Noir or Meunier (Blancs des Noirs), or a blend of all three.

Champagne should be served chilled, preferably in an ice bucket to maintain the cool temperature. It should be drunk from a flute, a tall narrow 'tulip-shaped' glass. This is designed to allow you to hold the glass without affecting the temperature of the champagne, as well as preserve the bubbles. Sometimes a "coupe" glass is used, but unless you drink your champagne quickly, this style is not recommended.

The areas of Reims and Epernay have been a centre of wine-making and selling since the Middle Ages. In the 17th century, apparently, a Benedictine monk (Dom Pierre Pérignon) who lived in Hautvillers, a village near Epernay, began experimenting with a method of pressing the region's black grapes to yield white juice. In 1729, the first champagne houses opened in Reims and Epernay. Champagne's popularity with the aristocracy, ensured its success as a luxury drink.

Méthode traditionelle – sparkling wine made by the same method as champagne, but not the real thing.

For cross channel shoppers the Champagne region is nearer than you might think – just three hours from Calais.

Book a ticket with French Autorail (Motorail)

"In victory you deserve Champagne! In defeat you need it!!" (Napoleon Bonaparte)

London Wine Academy – London Wine Academy. Gift vouchers for courses and tasting events. Tel: 0845 555 1100.

Related site pages

French WinesRegionsAbout labelsChampagnesWine Tasting

Champagne terms

Cuvee – Blend, RICH – Sweetest, DOUX – Very sweet, DEMI SEC – Sweet, SEC – Slightly sweet, BRUT – Dry, EXTRA BRUT – Dry, BRUT NATURE – Very dry.

Bottle sizes

Sabrage – the Napoleonic Art of Sabrage involves uncorking a champagne bottle with a sword. The tradition is still kept alive by the Confrérie du Sabre d'Or, the official society dedicated to promotion of the Art of Sabrage in the United Kingdom and abroad.

Grape Escapes – Grape Escapes, learn about and try Sabrage yourself. Tel: 08707 667 617.

Types of Champagne

Vintage – The wine of one outstanding year. Usually benefit from at least 3 years ageing.

Non-vintage – A blend of several years – accounts for 75% of all champagne produced. Keep for a year at least.

Blanc de blancs – Made from the juice of chardonnay (white) grapes only. Needs to be aged – the longer you age it the more tasty it becomes. Tends to be lighter than Blanc de noirs.

Blanc de noirs – Made exclusively from black grapes (Pinot Noir) and produces the palest possible wine.

Crément – Half sparkling

Rosé – Pink Champagne made by blending in a little red wine. Pure pinot noir rosé is usually richer.

Réserve – Any wine can be called réserve

Récemment dégorgé – Wine laid to mature upside down, and disgorged when considered ready to drink.

Prestige cuvée – Expensive – should be treated like a super vintage.

Bottle sizes

Quart / Split - 18.7 cl
Demie - 37.5 cl
Bouteille - 75 cl
Magnum 2 bottles 1.5 l
Double Magnum 4 bottles 3.0 l
Jéroboam 4 bottles 3.0 l
Rehoboam 6 bottles 4.5 l
Mathusalem or Impérial 8 bottles 6.0 l
Salmanazar 12 bottles 9.0 l
Balthazar 16 bottles 12.0 l
Nabuchodonosor 20 bottles 15.0 l
Melchior 24 bottles 18.0 l

Useful information

Tip – look for RM (récoltants-manipulants) for champagnes, less polished and finely honed than the grandes marques, but which have a concentrated local character). Most champagnes are drunk very young nowadays – although they should really be kept for a few years.

For a cheaper but often as good option, try a Crement wine – an up-market sparkling wine made by the champagne method, important in Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Loire regions.

Transport in and to Reims.

Trains: Cour de la Gare, not far from Place de la Republique. Lots of trains to and from Paris (about 18 per day) and Reims (about 16 per day)

Buses: STDM. Tel: 0033 326 65 17 07

Public Transportation: Sparnabus, rue E. Duch. Tel: 0033 326 55 55 50.

Champagne Houses

c comme champagne – If you want to sample a wide range of champagnes easily why not visit C Comme at 8 rue Gambetta, 51200 Epernay. Tel:0033 326 32 09 55. "C Comme, Champagne of Proprietaire" is a space entirely dedicated to the wines from champagne. More than 350 champagnes are at your disposal to buy or to taste". C Comme.

Worth a visit is this shop; La Cave à Dizy, 463 Avenue du Général Leclerc. 51530 Dizy.

In Reims you will finds the following champagne houses; Pommery, G.H. Mumm, Lanson, Charles de Cazenove, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Taitinger.

In Epernay: Moet et Chandon, Perrier Jouet, Mercier, de Castellane.

Moet et Chandon remains one of the most prestigious houses, best known for vintage Dom Perignon. Krug Grand Cuvee is generally light and elegant with a faint aroma of vanilla. Roederer Cristal is a big, creamy, classic champagne. Laurent Perrier's non-vintage is generally one of the best buys. Try Bollinger Cuvee Tradition for a classic, robust and complex champagne to remember. Other brands; Alfred Gratien, Billecart-Salmon, Charles Heidsieck, De Venoge, Henriot, Gosset, Jacquesson, Lanson, Pol Roger, Pommery, Ruinart, Salon, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot.

This is a list of all the Champagne vineyards we have come across.

Champagne Ayala. Château d'Ay, 2, Bd. du Nord, 51160. Ay. Tel: 0033 326 55 15 44. Small independent producer.

Champagne Canard-Duchêne. 12 rue du Temple, 51100. Reims. Tel: 0033 326 61 11 60. Ranked 3rd most popular Champagne brand in France, the world's largest champagne market. Tours by appointment only.

Champagne Castellane. Tel: 0033 326 51 19 19. Labelled with the famous red St. André cross. Home page gives information about the de Castellane tower in the heart of Epernay, the museum on champagne production and the butterfly garden.

Champagne Charles Heidsieck. 4, Bd. Henry Vasnier, 51100. Reims. Tel: 0033 326 84 43 50. Produced a celebratory bottle for the 700th anniversary of the Grimaldi family of Monaco in 1997. Also produces the "Champagne Charlie" variety, so-called because of its founder's nickname on arriving in USA. Tours by appointment only.

Champagne Caudron. rue Jean York, 51700 Passy-Grigny.

Champagne Chevrolat. 7 bis, rue di Pont, 10340 Les Riceys.

Champagne Colin. 101 avenue du Général de Gaulle, 51130 Vertus.

Champagne Daniel Moreau. 5 rue du Moulin, 51700 Vandières.

Champagne Déhu, Père et fils. 3 rue St Georges, 02650 Fossoy.

Champagne Drappier. Rue des Vignes, 10200 Urville-France.

Champagne Duménil. Rue des Vins. 51500 Chigny-les-Roses. Tel: 0033 326 03 44 48.

Champagne Emmanuel Pithois. 4 rue VeuvePommery. 51360 Verzenay.

Champagne Eric Taillet. 37 rue Valentine Regnier. 51700 Baslieux sous Chatillon.

Champagne Etienne Lefèvre. 30 rue de Villiers. 51380 Verzy.

Champagne Edouard Brun. Home page gives information about the product range and special offers. In English and French. Champagne Gosset. 69, rue J. Blondeau, BP7, 51160. Ay. Tel: 0033 326 56 99 56.

Champagne Epernay. Tel: 0033 32653 33 00.

Champagne Michel Genet. 27 rue des Partelaines. 51530 Chouilly.

Champagne Hamm. One of the younger champagne houses, founded in 1910.

Champagne Henry de Vaugency. 1 rue d'Avize. 51190 Oger.

– Worth a visit with a museum of marriage and champagne labels.

Champagne Jacquart. Reims.

Champagne Jerome Dehours. 2, Rue de la Chapelle 51700 Cerseuil. Tel; 0033 326 52 71 75.

Champagne Krug. 5, rue Coquebert, 51100. Reims. Tel: 0033 326 84 44 20. Used by Maxim's restaurant in Paris to celebrate their 80th birthday. One of the oldest champagne houses, founded in 1729. Still uses traditional methods and each barrel is made by hand. Tours by appointment, on weekdays only.

Champagne Domaine Lamialle. 8 Rempart est. 51150 Tours sur Marne.

Champagne Lanson. 12, Bd. Lundy, 51056. Reims. Tel: 0033 326 78 50 50. Founded in 1760. Tours by appointment, on weekdays only.

Champagne Laurent Perrier. 51150. Tours-sur-Marne. Tel: 0033 326 58 91 22. Tours by appointment only in English, French, German and Spanish.

Champagne Leclerc Briant. 67, rue Chaude Ruelle, 51204 Epernay. Tel: 0033 326 54 45 33. Home page includes information for importers and about vineyards, wine-making, cuvées and the cellars. In English and French.

Champagne Louis de Sacy. 6 rue de Verzenay, 51380 Verzy.

Champagne Louis Roederer. 21, Bd. Lundy, 51100 Reims. Tel: 0033 326 40 42 11. Tours by appointment and recommendation only.

Champagne Mercier. 68, avenue de Champagne, Epernay.

Moet and Chandon. 20, avenue de Champagne, Epernay. Founded by Claude Moet in 1743. Site includes the Trianon mansion, built for Napoleon Bonaparte and his entourage for their champagne buying visits. Museum. Tel: 0033 333 26 51 20. Open: daily from 9.00 – 11.00am, 2.00 – 4.30pm.

Champagne GH Mumm and Cie. 34 rue du Champs de Mars, 51100 Reims. Tel: 0033 326 49 59 70. Founded in 1827 by a family of German wine merchants.

Champagne Pannier. 23 rue Roger Catillon, 02400 Château-Thierry.

Champagne Perrier Jouet. Epernay. Producers of the famous prestige cuvée, the "Belle Epoque".

Champagne Piper Heidsieck. 51, Bd. Henry Vasnier, 51100 Reims. Tel: 0033 326 84 43 44.

Champagne Pommery. 5, place du Général Gouraud, 51100 Reims. Tel: 0033 326 61 62 55.

Champagne Robert Moncuit. 2 Place de la Gare. 51190 Le Mesnil sur Oger. Tel: 0033 326 57 52 17.

Champagne Roger Brun. 10 rue St Vincent, 51160 Ay.

champagne ruinart – Champagne Ruinart. 4, rue des Crayères, 51100 Reims. Tel: 0033 326 77 51 54. One of the oldest champagne houses, founded in 1729. Tours on weekdays, by appointment only.

Champagne Sanger. 33 Rempart du Midi. 51190 Avize.

Champagne Sourdet-Diot. 02330 La Chapelle-Monthodon.

Champagne Taittinger. 9, place Saint Nicaise, 51100 Reims. Tel: 0033 326 85 84 35. Paying tours in English, French and German.

Champagne Thiercelin. 50 rue du 11 Novembre. 51530 Moussy. Tel: 0033 326 55 02 46.

Champagne Thierry Bourmault. 5 rue Boutons d'Or. 51530 Cuis. Tel: 0033 326 59 79 57.

champagne ruinart – Champagne Tribaut. 88 rue d'sEguisheim, 51160 Hautvillers. Founded by the Tribault family who learned their trade from Dom Pérignon.

Champagne Vadin-Plateau. 12 rue de la Cooperative. 51480 Cumieres. Tel: 0033 326 55 23 36.

Champagne Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin. 1, place des Droits de l'Homme, 51100 Reims. Tel: 0033 356 89 54 41. Founded in 1772 by Philippe Cliquot, who passed on control to his son, François. On the son's death, the reins were taken over by the veuve (widow), Nicole Cliquot. She once said "only one quality, the finest". Official champagne of the Danish, Swedish and English courts. Drank at the celebration of the Queen's silver jubilee in 1977. Tours lasting about 90 minutes by appointment only.

Useful Outside links

General site.

General site.

Tourist information.

Tourist information.

Reims Tourist Office.

Some useful information.

More links to individual producers.

Epernay Tourist Office. /

Branded Champagnes





Piper Heidsieck.




Christie's World of Champagne and Sparkling Wine (Tom Stevenson)

Wine links

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