Champagne Gosset Archives - Please The Palate
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The story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
My recent trip to France included a one-day stop in Champagne, and I looked forward to visiting with great anticipation. I have had the privilege to visit many wineries around the world and go into their barrel rooms and cellars. But since I first began studying wine, I have been dreaming about going to Champagne. I remember reading about the damp cellars in Champagne that have survived the centuries that have included two world wars. I recall reading about the cellar walls of chalk that rubs off onto your hands when you touch the walls.
When I would conjure up Champagne, I pictured grey skies, a cold climate, large chateaus and slopes lined with vineyards. Located in the north of France, the region of Champagne is actually home to the northernmost vineyards in France, more northern than Alsace. It is a region known for a cold climate with harsh weather conditions. With an average temperature in the low 50s, Champagne receives barely 1,650 hours of sunshine annually. The oceanic climate brings steady rainfall and the weather, coupled with limestone and chalk soils, is what contribute to the minerality, high acidity and lack of ripeness found in the grapes of Champagne.