Chardonnay was the first grape to be planted in the Champagne region.
Chardonnay is well established in Champagne today, but it is a relative newcomer. According to On Champagne, by Essi Avellan, MW, the grape arrived around 1850. By comparison, Pinot Noir arrived (from Burgundy) in the 1500s and by 1860 was the most planted grape in the region. Chardonnay’s heyday happened in the 1920s with the creation of blanc de blancs Champagne, the first of which was produced by Maison Salon. While wine drinkers commonly think of the Champagne region as having three varieties—Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay—five others (planted in tiny but growing amounts) are officially authorized for use: Arbane, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and the new variety Voltis.