Pinot Meunier is one of the three key varieties of grape used in the production of champagne, along with Chardonnay (which adds a delicate touch) and pinot noir (the red fruit aromas of which bring body and strength).
Pinot Meunier can be found in abundance on the chalky hillsides of the Onois region and the Marne Valley, so it is not surprising that the Aisne department lays claim to 10% of the champagne vines (around 2,425 acres), meaning that the entire Aisne part of the Marne Valley is devoted to champagne production.
The vines here have been granted AOC (controlled designation of origin) status thanks to the efforts of Emile Morlot, Deputy Mayor of Charly-sur-Marne (the largest wine-producing area in the Aisne region). As a result of his actions, the champagne law of 1927 (which determines the criteria for controlled designation of origin status) included the Aisne region in its demarcation of the vineyard, drawn up in accordance with the history of the surrounding towns and plots of land.
Considered as being 'clear, light, fresh and shimmering' in the Middle Ages, Champagne wines experienced a true revolution in the 17th Century with two major discoveries in the area, namely the pressing of black grapes into white (which gives a perfect white and preserves the wine better) and the formation of bubbles (a process by which a uniform effervescence of very fine bubbles is achieved by natural fermentation).
Champagne, which has to meet many different criteria (35 rules to adhere to, such as the minimum ageing time, the height of the vine, manually-harvested crops, etc.) and requires certain actions which haven't changed for centuries, is an exceptional product and one which is fervently protected by the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (the Interprofessional Committee for Champagne Wines).
This committee fights to ensure that the relevant quality criteria are met in order to guarantee the exclusivity of the name 'Champagne' throughout the world.