Champagne is located only 145 kilometres away from the north of Paris, in the middle of a small mountain range that rises from a Cretaceous plain divided in two parts by the Marne River. The appellation Champagne includes basically the Marne and Aube departments. In total more than 34.000 hectares of vineyard, yet the strong request compel winemakers to increase the plantations. These states are placed at 100 to 150 metres above the sea level, being Aube the higher zone. Grapevines in Champagne are distributed in three sectors: the central zone, which includes Reims Mountain, Marne valley and the Côte de Blancs; about 75 kilometres away from this zone, the Aube vineyard and finally the marginal vines of Sézanne, the Arde valley, Petit Morin and Aisne.
The most interesting zone is the central one: Reims mountain: a forest area where the main grape grown is Pinot Noir and to a lesser extend Pinot Meunier. Pinot grapes planted in the hillsides heading north, as Verzenay and Verzy, produce base wines more acid and less strong than those from Ay, though they contribute to give an elegant finish when blended with other wines. Wines from Reims Mountain are the wine backbone. Here is where the famous red wines from AOC Coteaux Champenois are produced. The west of the Marne valley has a series of slopes heading south that receive sun, which provides maturity, roundness and aroma to the wines. The best plots here are devoted to Pinot Noir mainly and to Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay in smaller quantity. At the south of Épernay we find the Côte de Blancs where Chardonnay is the prevailing variety and the sparkling wines from Champagne blanc de blancs are produced. Cramant, Azive and Le Mesnil are the most famous villages.
The authorised varieties nowadays in AOC Champagne are: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay as main ones and Arbane and Petit Meslier.