Champagne wines owe their worldwide renown to the talent and expertise of the Champagne Houses. Members of the ‘Union des Maisons de Champagne’ (UMC) are the grandes marques: literally the ‘big brands’ (in name though not always in output). Their wines are blended from bought-in grapes from selected vineyards that contribute to the style of the brand.
Their special talent lies in the crafting of cuvees with a timeless style that is unique to the House in question. Every cuvee – or blend – draws on the strengths of particular grape varieties, vineyards and vintages. The bulk of this production is made from bought-in grapes that are supplied under long-term contracts with independent growers (vignerons)..
The Champagne Houses now account for more than two-thirds of all Champagne shipments and represent 90% of the export market.
In 1882 they formed what is now the Union of Champagne Houses (UMC) to protect the name ‘Champagne’. Originally known as the Syndicat du Commerce des Vins de Champagne, the union prosecuted anyone who misused the name ‘Champagne’, whether in France or abroad, and it invariably won its case. ‘Champagne’ might have otherwise become the generic term for all sparkling wines.
Make sure your stay in Champagne includes a visit to the Champagne Houses. Click on the link below for details of Houses that welcome visitors, and where to find them.
Happy hunting and Bon Voyage in Champagne !
to the official Champagne website
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