It’s possible that no other word associated with wine and spirits can conjure up images of love, romance and elegance as well as Champagne. But it is the region of the same name that determines the authenticity of the sparkling wine that shares its moniker and elicits these magical feelings. While the wine world offers a lovely array of delicious and diverse sparkling wines for just about any occasion, true and authentic Champagne must have its origins in none other than the Champagne region, appropriately located a mere 90 miles northeast of Paris, the City of Lights.
Enjoying a long and rich history, the Champagne region has been cultivated for centuries. The Romans were the first to plant vineyards, with the area being cultivated by the 5th century. Legend claims that the first King of France (although not called France at the time) was anointed with still wines from Champagne in the 9th century. This started the tradition that followed for the next thousand years of all French kings being coronated and anointed in Reims, which lies in the heart of the Champagne region. 11th century Pope Urban II, a native of Champagne, declared that the wines from his homeland were the best in the world, adding to its growing reputation that attracted royalty and the papacy alike; Pope Leo X, Francis I of France, Charles V of Spain and even England’s Henry VIII all owned parcels of vineyards in the region. In fact, a batch that was sent to Henry’s Chancellor, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, is considered the first wine export from Champagne to England. Whether or not this history also sparked the celebratory nature of Champagne remains a mystery, although given the association with royalty, it shouldn’t be ruled out: Champagne continues to be the go-to wine for the most special of celebrations across the world.