This blogpost was originally posted on my blog in Dutch. If you want to read the Dutch version click here.
Today for my English talking friends.
No boring history lesson for you, dear follower, but a bubbling interpretation of the origins of Champagne, in the manner of bubbliciouslyme.
Let us go back a few steps in time to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Equally fond of wine, as I do. Perhaps even fonder;) Evidence are the many art forms with grapes, vines, wine-making, wine gods, etc as a theme.
Real bon vivants, those Romans. No wonder they were experts in viticulture. And by the knowledge they amassed in their country of origin, they also achieved to lift the wine in the Champagne region, where they ended up in the course of their conquests, to higher levels. They looked for the best hillsides, which received most of the sunlight, and where the drainage was optimal. And between the first and the fourth century, they planted grape varieties that could take a beating. However there was no question of Champagne at that time…
Later in the fifth century, the Roman Empire collapsed and most vineyards were destroyed by the Germans and other tribes, who apparently didn’t know much of this precious liquid. Ai those barbarians;)
But never mind, with the rise of monasteries viticulture revived. In the Champagne region the monastic orders made wine from the seventh century on. Around 660 there was the Abbey of Hautvillers which planted vines in this region, followed closely by the Abbey of Saint Pierre aux Monts in Chalons en Champagne.
Not in the champagne but more than worth a visit. St. Peter in St. Peter’s Square in Ghent There’s still a beautiful vineyard to admire, from the time of the abbey.
Why monasteries wanted to grow grapes? Simple: firstly, because the sisters and brothers loved the good life, and secondly because by producing their own wine, they had it at hand to use during Eucharistic Celebration …. What you do yourself, you do better, they must have thought. And they each produced their own wine. To our great joy I must say. And of course it was an important source of income to them!
In 1114 the abbot of Chalons, Guillaume de Champeaux, composed the great charter of Champagne. The original is lost, but a copy is kept in the Archives Départementales de la Marne. This charter, as is generally believed, means the kick off for the Champagne region. It captures all conditions to turn this region into a peaceful and prosperous place.
For today, enough history talk. I will be back soon, with more information about the evolution in the Champagne region. Keep on following me 😉
In the mean time, let’s have a glass of Champagne.