Heidsieck, Moët, Perrier-Jouët, Bollinger, Pommery, Clicquot... in a word, Champagne!
Synonymous with luxury and celebration, but where does champagne madness come from?By Julien Blanc-Gras
The Romans got one thing right: it was they, after all, who planted the first vines in their champagne region. During the Middle Ages, clergy men produced and refined what was then, an unsparkling wine. It’s safe to say that those priests were on to something good... The French kings were sacred in Rheims, between 898 and 1825. These royals brought with them great festivals, and celebrated them with local wines. The legend of champagne began.
Over the course of the centuries, its reputation has surpassed all frontiers. It became the drink of international monarchs, offered at diplomatic encounters, and at the signing of treaties. For Talleyrand, it's the "wine of civilisation". Napoleon himself declared that he could "not live without champagne. In victory, it is merited. In defeat, it is needed."
In the 17th century, when it was first bottled, champagne found its bubbles. At this same time, a Benedictine monk named Dom Pérignon had the audacious idea of introducing the cork (in order to maintain the wine’s freshness and light sparkle). Shortly thereafter names we all now know emerged: Heidsieck, Moët, Perrier-Jouët, Bollinger, Pommery, Clicquot...
In the 20th century, champagne was associated with historic premiers: the completion of the Channel tunnel and the inaugural flight of Concorde were celebrated with the popping of a cork. It was the reward for the Alpine pioneers of Mount Everest and of the astronauts on their return to Earth.
Today, champagne is indispensable for the launching of a boat or the crowning of a Formula 1 Grand Prix winner, to celebrate a marriage or to spice up a romantic encounter. And of course, to ring in the New Year, a time when champagne brands propose their most prestigious products (gift boxes, limited editions, special blends, etc.)
Today, some 302 crus are spread over 30,000 hectares of vines between Epernay and Rheims, and contribute, now and forever, to the chic and glamorous attraction of France. Champagne is eternal.
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