Is any region more synonymous with luxurious and superlative wine than Champagne?
This north-eastern French province has been known as a successful centre of wine production since the Middle Ages, when the Champagne-born Pope Urban II declared his native vintages the finest in the world. It’s believed that the first vines were cultivated here by the Romans some five centuries earlier – possibly even before.
In the 12th and 13th centuries, Champagne was a centre of commerce; a stopping-point for European fairs, where visitors from Germany, Italy, and further afield would come to exchange northern cloths for more exotic Mediterranean goods.
It’s no wonder the local wine’s reputation spread. Indeed, following Pope Urban II’s proclamation, its popularity grew to the point where even King Henry VIII owned vineyards here. As a fierce rival to Burgundy, the region had plenty of reasons to up its game – and the much-lauded efforts of Dom Perignon added excellent sparkling wine to their repertoire.