The quality of the wines produced on the chalky, limestone hills of Champagne has been well recognised and associated with royalty and the wealthy for hundreds of years. Sparkling wine became synonymous with Champagne and use of the name was being used irreverently on labels, the use of which soon became the subject of international legal battles. Today it is generally accepted as the property of the Champagne producers.
Champagne's three sub-regions, the Montagne de Reims, the Vallee de La Marne and the Cotes des Blancs, are in turn allowed to cultivate three premier grape varieties, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. There are hundreds of individual villages graded for their production quality, the finest of which are designated Grand Cru of which there are only seventeen.