How is the title Champagne protected?

As you probably know, Champagne is the name of a particular type of wine, but it is, more importantly, the name of a particular region in France – a region proud of its vineyards and its people who have preserved and developed the region through such a unique product, the very name has become synonymous with class and refinement. So, as you’ll soon learn, this region and it’s wine are so intimately linked, that in modern times, only Champagne can produce Champagne.
Before talking about the means in which the Champenois protect this name, let's underline that the title of ‘Champagne’ was not made in one day. The history of the wine itself is several centuries old and rich with multiple key events. You may recall much of this from a previous episode, but let’s do a quick recap.
Between the 1st and 4th centuries, the Champagne vineyards were formed with monks heading the precise selecting and mixing of grapes. Soon the wines were particularly noted for their effervescent nature, and shortly thereafter, Champagne became the drink of the elite, notably the favorite wine of Louis XIV and many more French and foreign royalty to follow.
Here’s where things begin to get a little interesting. From the 19th century, wines from other regions began using the name “champagne” for their own wines, making the most of the prestige association with the title.
The first lawsuits to defend the name took place in 1844. The Champenois were urgent to protect it legally. To begin with, the Champenois demanded the strict delimitation of the production area. Then they set rigorous vineyard management methods and required rules of elaboration, which in 1936, finally led to the recognition of the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée, the AOC, or in English, “The Controlled Label of Origin.” The AOC is an official sign of quality that identifies and protects a product whose production stages are carried out in the same geographical area and according to recognized know-how. Champagne’s AOC covers 34,000 hectares and the aforementioned specifications of production. Because of this AOC the only wines legally recognized as "Champagne" are specifically from the region of Champagne and are produces to the correct standards.
Obtaining this AOC for the wine of Champagne was an essential step in its protection, but it was not the only one. Indeed, the winegrowers and wine houses had to – and still have to – fight to prevent the title from being used illegally, especially abroad. United within the framework of the Champagne Committee, the winegrowers and wine houses continue to reinforce this heritage, preserving their prestigious name. These efforts have allowed the recognition of the Champagne name by greater than 120 countries as the continue to fight effectively against frauds and counterfeits, especially since the latter are often of poor quality.
The "Coteaux, Maisons et Caves de Champagne" (the Champagne Hillsides, Houses and Cellars) have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2015. This recognition by UNESCO of the Exceptional Universal Value of the sector's heritage is an asset and also a responsibility. It helps defend and promote the prestigious name but, in return, requires great rigor on the part of the sector in the preservation of its historical heritage.
Last little interesting fact for today is that the unwavering commitment of the Champagne industry to protect its name benefits all other ventures to do the same. Its multiple scrimmages have advanced the law of the appellations with numerous favorable jurisprudences that benefit all appellations. They play a global role in protecting heritage, a role that reaches far beyond the
vineyards and wine houses of Champagne.
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