Monday, September 30, 2013

The Great Champagne District, 1920

Map of Champagne District

Excerpted from "The Champagne Vine Country and Champagne Wine", 1920, by Georges Chappaz and Alexandre Henriot. This is a somewhat simplistic but still pleasant introduction to the towns within that famous region of France, and to the basic grape varieties grown there. 

Here's a link to the original document at

The best part of the Champagne vine-country lies some hundred miles to the east of Paris, in the districts of Reims, Epernay and Chalons.

The vines grow on slopes, of which the northern boundary is the Reims mountain and the southern limit is the Brie country. The river Marne, celebrated by its victories, forms the central valley.

Magnificent forests crown these slopes, and the undulating vineyards with their woodland background afford many picturesque features, with extensive views over ,he surrounding country.

The peculiar character of the soil is one of the chief causes of the remarkable quality of the wine.

The trade in Champagne wines is an extremely ancient one; its principal centres are Reims, Epernay and Ay, but Chalons-sur-Marne and other place such as Mareuil, Avize and Vertus, are also the homes of well known firms.

The whole region of the vineyards is well worth a visit, and the roads are excellent for motoring. Several railway lines running between Paris and Reims, Paris-Epernay-Chalons, and Epernay-Ay-Reims, make it possible to travel from Paris and back the same day.

On the slopes of the Mountain of Reims lie the leading first growths of Verzenay, Verzy and Mailly, to the west of which are many secondary growths of great value. Between the Mountain and the Marne valley are Bouzy and Ambonnay, also leading first growths.

Ay, with the neighbouring villages of Mareuil, Dizy, Hautvillers and Cumieres, is the centre of the Marne valley district.

To the south of the River lies the "Cote des Blancs ", where white grapes are grown. Cramant and Avize are perhaps the best parts of this region, with Oger and Le Mesnil. Further south are the slopes of Vertus, where black grapes reappear.

Champagne with its pale golden tint, is made, contrary to what might be supposed, mostly from black grapes. On the mountain and in the Valley of the Marne, as well as at Vertus, the vine is the" black Pinot" together with the "Pinot Meunier" also a black grape. On the Cote des BIancs the "White Pinot Chardonnay" only is grown.

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