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The 17th century


Until well into the 17th century, wine from Champagne was mainly an inconspicuous, still wine, without bubbles. At the end of the 17th century and especially in the 18th century, the winemakers were able to turn this ordinary wine into an elegant sparkling wine, by applying various inventions and vinification techniques,  An enormous breakthrough!


However, due to lack of knowledge about the second fermentation process, essential to the production of champagne, sometimes there were no bubbles at all or the opposite occurred; the bottles exploded due to the internal pressure. In 1828, up to 80% of the champagne bottles in the cellars exploded! It was therefore called 'le vin du diable', the devil's wine.

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Dom Pérignon


Dom (Pierre) Pérignon (1638-1715) was a Benedictine monk at the Abbey of Hautvillers

It is sometimes said that it was him, who invented champagne, but this effervescent 'invention' cannot be attributed specifically to one person.

However, Dom Pérignon did contribute to the development of champagne. The biggest challenge in his time was to prevent the  champagne bottles from exploding in the cellars. Dom Pérignon introduced a number of improvements, which are still in use in the Champagne region, such as blending wine from different grape varieties and crus.


The story goes that when Dom Pérignon tasted champagne for the first time, he called his brothers and that he said in wonder: 'Venez vite – je goute les étoiles!' which means 'Come quickly brothers, I'm tasting the stars!'

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The 18th and the 19th century

After 1700, a number of important techniques were developed and applied, which altogether created the champagne we all know and love so much:

  • Closing the champagne bottle with a cork and a linen thread. Later on, the thread was replaced by an iron wire cage (muselet).

  • Producing stronger bottles that could withstand the high pressure within.

  • In 1816, the pupitre was invented by Madame (Veuve) Clicquot, together with her chef de cave.

  • Adding sugar to the  bottled wine, the dosage.

  • Storing champagne bottles in caves, in the dark and at a constant temperature.

  • The removal of sediment, the dégorgement, from the years 1780-1790 on.

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The champagne houses

On the 25th of May 1828, the French King Louis XV issued a decree, which allowed champagne to be transported in bottles. This meant a huge breakthrough, because from that moment on, champagne could also be traded.

Ruinart was the very first champagne house in the world, founded on September 1st, 1729. It was  followed by Fourneaux (later Taittinger) in 1734, Moët et Chandon in 1743, Veuve Clicquot in 1772 and Heidsieck in 1785, among others.

There are now 370 champagne houses, 130 cooperatives and 16,000 wine growers. The winegrowers own 90% of the vineyards. About 1/3 of them produce champagne under their own name, the other winegrowers supply grapes to the houses and/or cooperatives.

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Comité Champagne

Alexandre Couvreux

1936 AOC Champagne

The delimitation of the Champagne region as we know it today, was not determined without a struggle.

The first borders were drawn in the period 1907-1911, but in 1911 a revolt of winegrowers took place, because certain traders kept grape prices low by buying their grapes elsewhere.

The boundary which was determined at that time, did not include the most southern part of the Champagne region, the Aube. This was corrected in 1927.

Finally, in 1936, the Appellation d'Origine Controlée (AOC, controlled designation of origin) Champagne was established. Today it is also an Appellation d'Origine Protegée (AOP), a protected designation of origin used within the EU, although the French still often use the term AOC.


The use of the name 'champagne' is therefore protected.

1941 Comité Champagne

The 'Comité interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne' or CIVC, as Comité Champagne is officially called, was created in 1941 by the French legislature to represent the interests of both winegrowers and champagne houses.


Some examples of the activities of the CIVC are quality control and improvement and the organization of the champagne sector. Brand awareness and the protection of the name 'champagne' worldwide is also part of the tasks of the CIVC.

Each year, the committee determines what the harvest yield may be, based on global demand, economic developments and existing stocks.​

The sustainability policy of the champagne sector is also the responsibility of the CIVC.

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