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Champagne only comes from Champagne, France
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Terroir & appellation

The Champagne terroir

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Vineyards planted on slopes

Sloping vineyards are so much a feature of Champagne that in the 17th century its wines were known as ‘vin de coteaux’ (wine of the slopes). The undulating to moderately steep terrain creates ideal vineyard sites that combine good drainage with excellent exposure to sunlight.

Vines carpet the slopes as far as the eye can see, extending from the wooded crests to the picturesque villages nestling in the valley beneath.

Average gradient is 12 % but some of the slopes are as steep as 59 %.

Hillsides favourable to vines

For centuries, the hillsides of Champagnes have favoured viticulture because high elevations receive greater intensity of sunlight than lower elevations at the same latitude. Planting the vineyards on predominantly south-, southeast- and east-facing slopes takes maximum advantage of this feature.

Intensité de l'ensoleillement par rapport à la pente

Geographical formations dating back 20 million years

The hillsides of the Champagne region were formed as the centre of the Paris Basin gradually sank under the weight of accumulated sediments, with up-thrusting along its northern and eastern sides.

The newly formed hills then came under attack from erosion, most notably in the Ice Age as repeated periods of freezing and thawing (glacials and interglacials) shattered the limestone rocks, wearing down the steepest slopes to produce the gently rolling landscape you see today.

The main hills formed in the up-thrusting of the Paris Basin are:

  • The Côte de l’Ile-de-France, with vineyards in the Côte des Blancs, the Montagne de Reims and the Sézannais
  • The Côte de la Champagne, with vineyards in Vitry-le-François and Montgueux
  • The Côte des Bar with vineyards in Barséquanais and Bar-sur-Aubois

Downcutting by the rivers Marne and Seine and their tributaries further fashioned the Côte de l’Ile-de-France :

  • creating sites ideal for vines that slope gently towards the valleys of the Marne, Ardre, Vesle and Surmelin,
  • Likewise in the Aube region, where the hills are sculpted by the rivers Seine, Aube, Ource, Landion, Arce and Laignes
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