The Southern Champagne Vineyards
By Tom Stevenson and Michael Edwards
This Guide was last updated on 24 June 2010
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Pinot Noir is an important variety, accounting for about 39% of the vines grown in Champagne, especially grown in the Montagne de Reims area, providing body and depth of flavour in a blend. Important too in the production of rosé Champagne. Blanc de Noirs Champagnes can be made from either Pinot Noir alone or Pinot Noir blended with Pinot Meunier. In the Aube, Pinot Noir is the only grape allowed for the legendary and unusual Rosé des Riceys.
Accounting for about 33% of Champagne grapes, Pinot Meunier is almost unique to Champagne and especially grown in the Vallée de la Marne where it is more resistant to frost than the other grape varieties. Used principally in Champagnes that can be enjoyed young, offering richness and fruitiness, and also with Pinot Noir, important for rosés and Blanc de Noirs.
Planted in 28% of the total Champagne vineyards, Chardonnay grows well on the chalky soils, especially on the east-facing slopes of the Côte des Blancs. Because Chardonnay flowers early, there is the risk of damage by frost. In young Champagnes it provides an austere elegance but can also confer good ageing ability to the wines. Blanc de Blancs Champagnes are 100% from Chardonnay.
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