Is Champagne (the sparkling wine) the only wine made in Champagne (the region of France)?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

It’s maybe a silly question, but does the Champagne region of France produce any other sparkling wines besides Champagne?

—Max, China

Dear Max,

I see how your brain works, and it’s actually a clever question. In terms of wine, the word “Champagne” refers exclusively to sparkling wines from France’s Champagne region.

It's technically possible that a producer located within the region of Champagne could make Vin Mousseux, a designation for sparkling wine from any region in France. They might label it Vin Mousseux because it's not produced from grapes approved for Champagne production—most commonly Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier; or it might be produced using the transfer method (secondary fermentation in pressurized steel tanks), instead of Champagne's required traditional method (secondary fermentation in the individual bottle later sold to the consumer). But Champagne commands a premium price, and the region's vineyards are among some of the most valuable in the world. Any producer making Vin Mousseux from other grapes would be wise to quickly pull out and replant their vineyards and change their production method!

I checked in with Wine Spectator senior editor and tasting director Alison Napjus, our lead taster for Champagne, and she points out that Champagne from Champagne isn’t the only wine to enjoy from Champagne. “Still wine production began long before the bubbles and today still reds and whites [from the Champagne region] are labeled as Coteaux Champenois,” says Napjus. “A still rosé is made under the Rosé des Ricey designation. Looking for something sweet? Try a glass of chilled Ratafia Champenois, a lightly sweet liqueur made from grape must fortified with local Champagne alcohol.”

She adds that most of Champagne's top names offer versions of these non-bubblies, although they are typically available only in limited quantities.

—Dr. Vinny

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