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.