Mike Parker

What Makes Champagne, Champagne?

Friday, February 16, 2018 at 8:47 AM
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Ah, champagne! Who can resist that shimmering light gold color, the lively aroma that is a heady mixture of crisp fruit, wet limestone and freshly baked bread, the soft, creamy mellow feel in your mouth… and the bubbles! Oh, yes, the bubbles!

But, what exactly is it that makes champagne, champagne? Location, location, location!

The truth is there are plenty of sparkling wines on the market that deliver the same, or very similar characteristics of color, aroma, mouth-feel and taste. And some of them even claim to be ‘champagne.’ But in order to qualify legally in more than 70 countries around the world as ‘champagne,’ the sparkling wine must be produced in the Champagne region of France, and be made in accordance with Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne regulations. A wine can be produced using the exact same grapes and the exact same formula, but if it isn’t produced in The Champagne region of France, it can’t be called champagne.

Although the United States is not a signatory of the original treaty, U.S. law bans the use of the term, ‘champagne,’ from all new U.S.-produced wines, allowing only those producers who had approval to use the term on labels before 2006 to continue to label their product as champagne, and even then, it must be accompanied by notice of the wine's actual location of origin (i.e. "California").