Have you ever wondered why some bottles of bubbly say champagne and others say sparkling wine? Long story short, it has to do with rules set by the French to protect the quality of the wine produced by the Champagne region. We don’t want to give away too much, though, so you’ll have to keep reading and we promise we’ll tell you all about it. Bear with us; there are some going to be some technical details about how this all works.
The Champagne region of France has been producing grapes for centuries and when it came to quality they set the bar. Then, other regions and countries started growing and producing wine and tried to use the name “Champagne” on their bottles. France wanted to make sure that their consumers could tell when they are picking up a high quality wine from the Champagne region (or any other region in France for that matter). This is when the Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC) came into place.
A wine with a designated AOC guarantees the buyer that it came from that specific geographical location. It is strictly regulated and based on the concept of terroir. In essence, they did not want any other place to take the name “Champagne” and claim it as their own, potentially tainting the reputation of the Champagne region. There are AOC’s for every wine growing region in France, and the concept became so popular that other countries started developing their own system for labeling wines. Here in the United States, for example, we have American Viticultural Areas (Hawk Haven’s is called Outer Coastal Plain).
Now, when you pick up a bottle of Champagne, you know exactly where it came from. Everything else must be labeled “sparkling wine,” including the bubbly we are producing here at Hawk Haven Winery.
In the next blog we’ll explain further the origin of sparkling wine and what types of grapes are the “proper grapes.” Stay tuned!