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Champagne aims to expand its vineyards

France is looking to extend its Champagne region in a bid to keep up with increasing demand.

Five experts from the French national appellations body, the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO), have been carrying out an audit of the area and have identified 40 potential villages that have the right sort of terroir to grow grapes to make champagne. Twenty two are in the Marne department, 15 in the Aube, two in the Haute-Marne and one commune is in the l’Aisne – and all are close to existing villages.

The experts looked at such things as soil, subsoil, slopes and aspect before producing the list, which will be reviewed next spring by the INAO.

Francoise Peretti, director of the Champagne Information Bureau, explained to ThirtyFifty that, ‘Champagne is not about volume, so if we expand we still need to work on quality.’

She explained that the region needs to make more champagne because not only is there increasing demand in its traditional markets, such as the UK, but there are emerging markets which haven’t realised their potential yet. China, Russia, India and, to a lesser extent, Brazil, are currently getting a taste for the French bubbly. So, said Francoise, ‘We need to create a confident buffer to make sure the traditonal as well as the emerging markets have champagne to enjoy.’

If the plan gets the go ahead, planting wouldn’t take place until 2017, safely beyond the EU’s current planting ban deadline.