Champagne is without a doubt the worlds most celebrated and celebratory wine. But what led to champagne’s iconic status?
Vines were first planted in Champagne by the Romans in 50BC. Since that time Champagne as a region has survived countless invasions, revolutions and wars, which have razed towns, cathedrals and villages to the ground, and have seen the picturesque vineyards of Champagne become home to brutal trench warfare resulting in the death of tens of thousands of Champenois.
The famous crayeres and tunnels below Reims and Epernay, once the quiet sanctuary of millions of bottles of slumbering champagnes, became makeshift homes, offices, schools and hospitals as the surviving Champenois sought refuge from the hostilities above.
Despite the grim realities of physical and financial hardship caused by ongoing battles, the resilient Champenois continued to tend their vines and produce “the king of wines and the wine of kings”. Indeed, until 1824, twenty-seven French Kings were crowned in the magnificent cathedral of Reims, and the wines of Champagne (although not sparkling at the time) were the favoured brew of the anointing ceremony.
Thus, since the middle ages there has been powerful connection between royalty and Champagne enhanced further by royal marriages where champagne was again the wine of choice.
But what of champagne today? Of course, it remains the wine we associate with celebration, success, love, and festivity, but todays champagne world is an exciting and dynamic one where the consumer can explore a plethora of champagne styles produced by a variety of categories of winemakers.
Purchase tickets to our Champagne 101 event series where we explore “Current trends in Champagne”.