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Wine Spectator School

Class 5: Old World Model: France




We tend to think of Champagne as a synonym for sparkling wine, but it's actually a vineyard district about an hour northeast of Paris. Only sparkling wines made in the Champagne region are permitted to be called "Champagne." Sparkling wines from other parts of the world should be called "sparkling wine," not Champagne.



Champagne is so far to the north that grapes barely ripen during the short growing season, even with the famous chalky soils radiating warmth through the night and the rolling hills tilting the vineyards toward the sun.

As a result, the still, or non-fizzy, wines made here are mouth-puckeringly acidic. Three centuries ago, winemakers in Champagne - including the monk Dom Perignon - made a virtue out...

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