A weeklong Champagne celebration begins today in the U.S. with two Grand Tastings in New York and San Francisco. This marks the first time tastings of this nature have been hosted in the United States by the Champagne appellation. The events are organized by the Comite Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), which represents all the grape growers and houses of Champagne, France. Both tastings will feature more than 30 Champagne houses and growers and give media, sommeliers and the wine industry an opportunity to taste a wide variety of wines from the region.This is the first time that we have hosted a tasting of this size from the Champagne appellation in the United States, said Sam Heitner, director of the Champagne Bureau, the U.S. representative of the CIVC. The selection of more than 90 Champagnes highlights the unique qualities that are born from the land, climate and centuries-old methods that can only be found in Champagne, France.Thibaut le Mailloux, the CIVC's new communications director, is attending the tastings and will be joined by representatives from the appellation, Champagne houses and growers.Champagne can only be made from grapes grown in a clearly defined region located about 90 miles northeast of Paris, said le Mailloux. With these tastings, we seek to increase understanding of the Champagne region in the United States, reaffirm the CIVC's long-standing commitment to supporting the U.S. market and ensure U.S. consumers know that Champagne only comes from Champagne. In 2010, Champagne exported more than 134 million bottles, with almost 17 million bottles shipped to the United States, making this Champagne's largest export market outside of Europe.