Champagne is a sparkling wine produced only from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France, which is a single Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC).

The three primary grapes used in the production of Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (other grape varieties are permitted but rarely used).

Methode Champenoise is the traditional method by which Champagne is produced – where, after primary fermentation and bottling a second fermentation occurs in the bottle.

Most Champagnes are non-vintage where a minimum of one and a half years ageing is required. In years where there is an outstanding harvest Champagne houses may 'declare' the vintage (millesimé) using only grapes from that particular year – three years maturation is required for these wines.

Champagne producers must adhere to a strict set of rules and regulations as set down by the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC). These include the amount of pruning, pressing, crop yield, time on lees before bottling as well as limiting the release of Champagne to market to maintain prices.


Tyson Stelzer’s top 10 late-disgorged Champagnes

1st August 2014

The release of Bollinger’s RD 2002 in the same month as Billecart-Salmon’s Nicolas François Billecart 2002 has reignited the discussion over the best time to disgorge Champagne. Tyson Stelzer...

Vintage Champagne

Vintage Champagne latest releases (as of 2013): panel tasting results

18th December 2013

Vintage Champagne offers the best value of any of the Champagne categories, agreed our tasters, but choose carefully as there's huge diversity - and then don't hurry to drink it. See the top rated...

DP 2004

Dom Perignon 2004 Champagne and food pairing

14th June 2013

See the images and tasting notes from Dom Perignon's food and Champagne pairing event, matching Dom Perignon 2004 to a variety of different dishes, hosted by the Chef de Cave Richard Geoffroy...

rose champagne, valentines, champagne,

Top-rated rosé Champagne

14th February 2013

See Decanter's selection of top-rated rose Champagnes perfect to celebrate with...

Vintage Champagne

Vintage Champagne 1992 & 1993: Panel tasting results

3rd December 2012

Champagnes disgorged earlier in their lives fared better than those disgorged later, but both the 1992 and 1993 vintages were praised for standing the test of time. See the 21 Champagnes that...

Laurent Perrier Champagne, Laurent Perrier

Top five Laurent-Perrier Champagnes to try

16th November 2012

As the family-run Champagne house, renowned for its rose, celebrates its bicentenary, Susie Barrie MW picks her top five Champagnes worth trying, see them all here...

champagne, panel tasting

Grower Champagne: panel tasting results

15th December 2011

Apart from a few issues with dosage, our experts were excited by the quality and consistency of these young Champagnes, saying that for a true taste of terroir, they're the only ones to buy. While...

vintage champagne, panel tasting,

Vintage Champagne: panel tasting results

2nd December 2011

While vintage Champagne may cost more than non-vintage, many say this category is the best value of all Champagnes, showing real personality and terroir. Out of 85 vintage Champagnes tasted, the...

champagne, michael edwars, experts choice

Expert's choice: Very Dry Champagne

29th November 2011

Extra dry categories of Champagne are rising in popularity, but there's more to these wines than just their low sugar levels, says Michael Edwards. See his 15 picks of three, four and five star...

rose champagne, valentines, champagne,

Tom Stevenson's top 12 rosé Champagnes - plus 3 English alternatives

16th November 2011

It's estimated that 150 million bottles of Champagne are produced every year with the majority being consumed throughout the festive season. With the rise in popularity of rose Champagne we ask...