The region of Champagne, located in the Northeast of France, allows up to 7 different grape varieties to be used in the final assemblage (blend) of the our favourite sparkling wine. The main percentage of plantings in the region are made up of the black varieties: Pinot Noir and Meunier, however Arbane, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are also permitted. Not forgetting the grape of the moment and King of the white Grapes used in Champagne - Chardonnay.
A French grape by birth right, in Champagne, it’s home as the name suggests, is the Côte des Blancs. Chardonnay is grown in all areas of the Champagne region, however Chardonnay grown from the Côte des Blancs is the most sought after and can fetch the highest price points. It's chalky soils and South East facing slopes contain the highest number of Grand Cru sites, which are – Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Cramant, Avize, Chouilly and Oger.
Chardonnay is currently the most planted white grape variety in the world, and in Champagne accounts for 30% of the regions plantings. Chardonnay can create wines in an array of styles from citrus lead steely profiles, all the way to big buttery and tropical wines. It’s a grape variety that lends itself to working well with Oak, and of course we know from its use in Champagne, can be blended with both red and white grapes making it a hugely versatile and popular option. Chardonnay is also treasured by collectors, especially from the Burgundy region due to its ability to age. Perfect for vintage Champagne!
The cool climate in Champagne fashions Chardonnay of a delicate manner displaying floral aromas, citrus fruits and often adds a fresh minerality to a final blend. As once spoken by Hubert de Billy of Pol Roger ‘Meunier is the skeleton, Pinot Noir is the flesh, and Chardonnay is the make up!’