Champagne
: Vine varieties

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

In the past, a number of grape varieties were planted in Champagne. But today almost the whole vineyard is planted with three:, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. The Pinot Noir, which accounts for just over a third of the total acreage, is no longer as dominant as it was, but still accounts for 38% of all plantings and provides the basic structure and depth of fruit in the blend. In Champagne, the Chardonnay, planted on 30% of the total vineyard, was traditionally grown on the east-facing slopes of the Côte des Blancs but has proved suitable in many other subregions, especially the Côte de Sézanne. In Champagne it grows vigorously and buds early, thus making it susceptible to spring frosts. It imparts a certain austerity and elegance to young champagnes, but is long lived and matures to a fine fruitiness. The remaining 32% is planted with pinot meunier, a variety much more important in Champagne than anywhere else, particularly in the Valley of the Marne. It provides many champagnes with an early-maturing richness and fruitiness. There were 90 ha of Pinot Blanc planted together with tiny amounts of Pinot Gris, Arbane, and petit meslier from which at least one varietal champagne is made.