German World Championship Rieslings

I take a short brake from the village profiles of Champagne to “ease the pressure” of all regular tasting notes that have been collecting dust for a while. Here a tasting on my balcony a sunny evening about a month ago, that also fits into the theme I intended for the blog this year, Riesling, where I haven’t quite lived up to my ambition of writing one post per week.

High summer this year didn’t just bring sunny weather (at least to my part of Europe, it wasn’t universal across the continent) and holiday time but also the football world cup. That’s “soccer” to some and “association football” in Wikipedia parlance, but everywhere were this sport is common, it is called “football” and nothing else. British footballer Gary Lineker one said “Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.” This was the result this time around as well, and from the games I saw, it seemed a well deserved victory. After this victory O., who has some German ancestry, called and wanted us to quickly pull together a tasting of German Riesling to celebrate their victory. Since I’m perfectly willing to taste German Riesling also without a world cup victory as an excuse, I thought this was an excellent idea. A contributing factor was that I had just installed a better table on my balcony, and the weather was well suited for using it.

Mario Götze kicks in the German victory goal in the finals against Argentina. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo by Marcello Casal Jr/Agência Brasil, 2014).

O. news that I enjoy mature wines and asked “could we perhaps taste the earlier world championship vintages?”. This year’s win was Germany’s fourth, so the years they have won are 1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014. Unfortunately, both 1954 and 1974 are really bad vintages, while 1990 is excellent, and 2014 hasn’t been harvested yet.

The description of the 1954 German vintage in the reference Deutsches Wein-Archiv start with the merciless statement “Das Weinjahr 1954 reiht sich in die verregneten Jahre 1913, 1922 und 1939 ein” – “The wine year 1954 follows in the path of the rained-away vintages 1913, 1922, and 1939″. That year’s “miracle of Bern” apparently stayed in Switzerland, at least in terms of the weather. Adi Dassler may have supplied the football team with with shoes that could be adapted to the field conditions – and therefore the moisture of the terrain – thanks to the studs with screws, but this didn’t help the poor vines and grapes in the vineyards back home.

The description of 1974 tells us that the vintage was actually better than 1972 (but then again, very few vintages have been worse than 1972), but distinctly worse than 1971 and 1973, that the harvest was 38% less than in 1973, and that hardly anything above Spätlese was produced, although the sweet(er) wines were more in focus in those days than they are today. This probably explains why I can’t recall having ever tasted a 1974 German wine, since it is usually Auslese and higher that were put away for extended cellaring, with the exception of Spätlese from truly great vintages (such as 1959). Also, 1974 was directly followed by two truly great vintages – 1975 and 1976 – so there was hardly any reason to “sit” on the mediocre 1974s to have anything in the cellar.

VM-provning 20140724So of the three harvested world championship vintages, only 1990 was present in my cellar. This made me think that it was perfectly reasonable to supplement with neighbouring vintages, +/- 1 year. 1953 is an excellent vintage and would be a beautiful substitute for 1954, but there are some limits in terms of scarcity of what fits into a tasting out on the balcony. 1975 was a more readily available substitute for 1974, and 2013 fresh from the shelf acted as stand-in for 2014. When we go back in time a couple of decades, the natural choice in Germany is wines with residual sweetness. Also, dry German 1975s aren’t that easy to find, since the quality pioneers on the dry side started to be active in the 1980s.

Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Auslese 1975
Mosel-Saar-Ruwer (the name of the region was shortened to Mosel in 2007, so still the longer form here). The wine is labelled as sold by Weingut Brogsitter in Ahrwiler, but still specifies Friedrich-Wilhem-Gymnasium in Trier (Weingut Stiftung Staatl. Friedr.-Wilh.-Gymnasium) as both producer and bottler (Erzeugerabfüllung). The combination is a bit unusual.

Light golden colour. Typical developed nose with petroleum and yellow apple, a hint of spice and “firne”, i.e., a somewhat “old” note, and very discrete botrytis. The palate is off-dry (minus) with yellow apple, some grapefruit bitterness, good acidity, some spice notes and some “firne” impression. d.v.s. lite “gammal” ton och mycket diskret botrytiston. Mature but with fine balance. 89 p.

By the standards of today, this was probably a lighter Auslese from the outset, since that was how they were made in those days, and the mature notes makes it come across as drier. 1975 is also a high-acid vintage, further balancing the sweetness. The other participants seriously underestimated the age of this wine (see below), which probably says some as to how well it had kept, although I – well aware of its age – did find the typical firne notes that to me definitely means 20+ years in an off-dry Riesling.

Schloss Reinhartshausen Hattenheimer Wisselbrunnen Riesling Auslese 1990
Rheingau

Orange or very deep golden colour, but without amber. Nose with pronounced botrytis and deep fruit notes with dried apricot and apricot puré, oranges, orange zest, some spice, harmonic development with some petroleum that is well embedded into the other notes. The palate is off-dry+ (semi-sweet) with oranges, dried apricot, good concentration of fruit and high acidity. A wine with fine balance and power, and really pleasant maturity. 92 p.

This was a phenomenally fine Auslese with a lot more weight than the previous one, and definitely more weight than I had expected, also when taking into account that Rheingau usually produces slightly heavier stuff than Mosel on the sweet side. The wine style of German top producers got more concentrated during the 1990s, and this wine comes across more like a modern Auslese than an older-styled one in terms of its weight. This wine probably fulfills the minimum requirements for a Beerenauslese.

Kloster Eberbach Riesling Spätlese 2013
Rheingau. Screwcap (Stelvin+).

Light yellow colour. Nose with peach, elderflower, citrus, some honey, sweetish impression with perfumed Riesling notes. The palate is off-dry(+) with honey, green apple, high acidity, and a fresh finish. Young, 88 p.

This is a non-vineyard designated Spätlese from Kloster Eberbach, which I believe they bottle only for the Swedish market. It has a good weight for a “non-specific” Spätlese at a reasonable price, and guesses about a young Auslese were heard around the table. I believe this may be the vintage speaking, because early reports said 2013 had quite a lot of botrytis, but I was surprised that the acidity was so high. This wine would probably benefit from some development, and the acidity in combination with the green apple impression indicates to me that it could be cellared for rather long.

It’s worth repeating that this producer – who always had an excellent set of vineyards – has improved the quality of the wines quite a lot in recent years, as was obvious from a tasting last autumn.

Two of the participants (experienced tasters) weren’t aware that there this small tasting had a vintage theme of sorts. They only knew that we were going to taste German Riesling following their gold. I found it very interesting to hear how they reasoned about the age of the wines, and in particular the first wine. One of them thought the 1975 (served blind) reminded him of how 1990s usually are, with a very marked acidity in combination with fine ripeness of the grapes. The other then opined that the wine probably wasn’t that old, and started to consider a 2001, also a vintage with really fine acidity (and probably somewhat similar to 1975 in style). No vintage older than 1990 was mentioned by either of them when they were discussing among themselves. It has been said before, but it definitely deserves to be repeated: Riesling with residual sweetness are really long-lived wines, in particular at the Auslese level and higher, and it is a true joy to drink them in a mature state. (There is of course very little suffering involved in drinking them young either…) Top vintages with truly great acidity are of course extra long-lived. The most recent vintages that fit into that pattern are 2010 and 2012, for those who wish to stock their cellars for the benefit of the future generations, but there haven’t been any bad vintages in the 2007-2013 period.

Swedish version

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Champagne area profile: Grande Vallée de la Marne

Key facts

Located in: Vallée de la Marne
Vineyards and grape varieties: 1828.5 ha (4518.3 acres), of which 65.5% Pinot Noir, 18.9% Chardonnay, and 15.5% Pinot Meunier.
Villages and classification: 9 villages, of which 1 grand cru (Aÿ) and 8 premier cru.
Noted for: good and powerful Pinot Noir from south-facing slopes, several Champagne houses in Aÿ.

Map

A neat sketch of  Grande Vallée de la Marne where also the topography can also be seen. The orange-coloured areas represent the vineyards. The picture belongs to the Unions de Maisons de Champagne, and is linked form their webpage describing the Grande Vallée de la Marne.

Neighbouring areas

East (same side of the Marne): Grande Montagne de Reims
West (same side of the Marne): Vallée de la Marne Rive Droite
Southwest (opposite side of the Marne): Vallée de la Marne Rive Gauche
South (opposite side of the Marne): Côteaux Sud d’Épernay
Southeast (opposite side of the Marne): Cote des Blancs
Comments: links will be added when profiles of the other areas have been uploaded.

Description

The Grande Vallée de la Marne is one of 17 areas (“terroirs”) in the Champagne wine region, at least in the scheme used by the Union de Maisons de Champagne (UMC), and these 17 areas are grouped into four subregions, of which the Vallée de la Marne is one.

The Grande Vallée de la Marne is the eastern part of the Vallé de la Marne, the Marne valley, where this river valley is a bit wider, and this area is situated only on the right bank (the north side) of the Marne river. The area is located across the Marne from Épernay and its slopes is a continuation of the southern part of the Grande Montagne de Reims area.

Thanks to the fine south-facing slopes of this area, many of Champagne’s best villages for Pinot Noir are found here. Of the nine villages in the area, Aÿ is the crown jewel and the only grand cru village, while the other eight are premier cru villages. The style of the Champagnes from this area is typically powerful. There are also good conditions to produce red wines in this area, and in particular Aÿ and Cumières have a tradition of doing this.

The Grande Vallée de la Marne is the only part of the Vallé de la Marne that is dominated by Pinot Noir. In the other areas, both further to the west and on the left bank of the Marne, Pinot Meunier dominates.

The border between the Grande Vallée de la Marne and the (Grande) Montagne de Reims

I’ve seen slightly different locations of the border between the Grande Vallée de la Marne and the Montagne de Reims in differerent sources. In any case, in the scheme from UMC that I use, the Grande Vallée de la Marne stretch from Cumières in the west to Avenay-Val-d’Or and Bisseuil in the east. The villages one step further to the east, Fontaine-sur-Aÿ and Tours-sur-Marne, is counted as part of the Grande Montagne de Reims.

In the background, most of the Grande Vallée de la Marne and its vineyards are visible. The picture is taken from the Épernay side (the Côteaux Sud d’Épernay area), where the vineyards in the foreground are located. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo by Fab5669, 2014).

Vineyards

Current vineyard surface in the Grande Vallée de la Marne (as of 2013 according to CIVC) is 1828.5 ha (4518.3 acres), distributed over 1116 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the 9 villages. There are 1195.6 ha (2954.4 acres) Pinot Noir, or 65.5%, 346.7 ha (856.7 acres) Chardonnay, or 18.9%, and 283.5 ha (700.5 acres) Pinot Meunier, or 15.5%.

Of the nine villages, five have more than 50% Pinot Noir in their vineyards, and in descending order after proportion they are Aÿ, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, Mutigny, Avenay-Val-d’Or, and Cumières. Three additional villages have more Pinot Noir as the most common variety although the proportion is less than half (39%-49%): Champillon, Hautvillers, and Dizy. One village, Bisseuil, has more than half Chardonnay (63%).

Villages

The following nine villages are located in the Grande Vallée de la Marne area:

  • Avenay-Val-d’Or: 237,7 ha (12% Ch / 10% PM / 77% PN), premier cru (93%)
  • Aÿ: 367 ha (8% Ch / 3% PM / 89% PN), grand cru (100%)
  • Bisseuil: 125,7 ha (63% Ch / 7% PM / 30% PN), premier cru (95%)
  • Champillon: 72,5 ha (18% Ch / 32% PM / 36% PN), premier cru (93%)
  • Cumières: 171,6 ha (19% Ch / 27% PM / 54% PN), premier cru (93%)
  • Dizy: 177 ha (37% Ch / 23% PM / 39% PN), premier cru (95%)
  • Hautvillers: 284,1 ha (22% Ch / 33% PM / 45% PN), premier cru (93%)
  • Mareuil-sur-Aÿ: 291,2 ha (9% Ch / 7% PM / 83% PN), premier cru (99%)
  • Mutigny: 101,5 ha (7% Ch / 13% PM / 81% PN), premier cru (93%)

Links

© Tomas Eriksson 2014

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Champagne village profile: Ambonnay in the Grande Montagne de Reims, a grand cru village

Key facts

Located in: Montagne & Val de Reims: Grande Montagne de Reims
Vineyards and grape varieties: 387.1 ha (956.5 acres), of which 81% Pinot Noir and 19% Chardonnay.
Classification: Grand cru (100%)
Noted for: good Pinot Noir from vineyards from rather high elevations.

Map

The map is linked from Wikimedia Commons, and the geographical information originates from OpenStreetMap. The dotted white area corresponds to the vineyards, light yellow indicates other open terrain, and green indicates forest.

Neighbouring villages

West: Bouzy (grand cru)
North: Trépail (premier cru)
Eastnortheast: Vaudemagne (premier cru)
Southwest: Tours-sur-Marne (grand cru cru)
Comment: more links will be added when profiles of the other villages have been uploaded.

The village

Ambonnay is situated in a very favourable location on the south side of the Montagne de Reims hill. This location is shared with the neighbouring village, Bouzy. From the easternmost houses of Bouzy to the westernmost in Ambonnay the distance is just about 700 m.

The Ambonnay commune covers 1180 ha and counts 925 inhabitants, referred to as ambonnagéen.

The church of Ambonnay, Église Saint-Réol d’Ambonnay. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo by Jean-Charles Lelong, 2012).

Vineyards

The vineyards consist almost exclusively of purely south-facing slopes on the  Montagne de Reims, mostly with Pinot Noir. The vineyards of Ambonnay, together with those of Aÿ and the neighbour Ambonnay, are the source of some of the most powerful Pinot Noir wines of Champagne, thanks to these south-facing slopes. On the now-defunct échelle des crus, Ambonnay was rated 100%, which made it a grand cru village.

The current vineyard surface in the Ambonnay commune is 387.1 ha (956.5 acres), distributed over 184 vineyard owners (exploitants). There are 312.2 ha Pinot Noir (81%) and 74.2 ha Chardonnay (19%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 381 ha.

Champagne houses that control vineyards in the village include Duval Leroy, Moët & Chandon, Mumm, Piper Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Roederer, and Taittinger.

Ambonnay Rouge

The south-facing slopes have meant that Ambonnay is one of a few Champagne villages with a strong tradition of also producing red wines. They are called Ambonnay Rouge, but their appellation is Coteaux Champenois.

Specific vineyard sites and vineyard-designated Champagnes

  • Clos d’Ambonnay is a vineyard of 0.68 ha (1.68 acres), with only Pinot Noir, and owned by Krug. The first vintage of Krug Clos d’Ambonnay was 1995, and it is the most expensive Champagne in the Krug range by a wide margin. In the video below, the Krug winemaker Eric Lebel presents it:

  • La Grande Rouelle. Marguet Père & Fils produces a vineyard-designated Champagne from this vineyard, the first vintage was possibly 2011.
  • Le Bout du Clos is the source of one of vineyard-designated Champagnes (lieux-dits) from Jacques Selosses (of Avize). It receives an oxidative oak treatment in solera, and is non-vintage. The first release under this name was disgorged in 2011, and the base vintage for that release was 2004. The vineyard consists of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay.
  • Les Bermonts. Marguet Père & Fils produces a vineyard-designated Champagne from this vineyard, the first vintage was possibly 2010.
  • Les Crayères is a vineyard site with several owners. Egly-Ouriet produces a non-vintage Blanc de Noirs  (100% Pinot Noir) from old vines from this vineyard, a plot planted in 1947. Marguet Père & Fils produces (since the 2008 vintage?) a vintage Champagne from grapes from this vineyard with the composition 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir.
    Comment: since the word “crayère” means chalk pit and is used for those old hollowed-out spaces in the chalk that have later been made into Champagne cellars, in particular in Reims, this is a common term in Champagne. Different variations of “crayères” is therefore common in cuvée names of Champagnes not sourced from this vineyard.
  • Le Parc. Marguet Père & Fils produces a vineyard-designated Champagne from this vineyard, the first vintage was possibly 2011.

Champagne producers

Champagne houses/négociants, members of Union des Maisons de Champagne

  • Soutiran (also Alain Soutiran), a négociant with 6 ha of their own vineyards, that supplement this with bought-in grapes.

Other champagne houses/négociants

  • Marguet Père & Fils, a smaller négociant with 8 ha of their own vineyards under biodynamic cultivation, of which 7.3 ha in Ambonnay and 0.7 ha in Bouzy. It is run by Benoît Marguet-Bonnerave. Most Champagnes have a village or vineyard designation, and the range also includes those made from bought-in grapes from other villages. They have started to bottle several Ambonnay vineyards separately: Les Crayères (at least from the 2008 vintage), Les Bermonts (at least from the 2010 vintage), Le Parc (at least from the 2011 vintage), and La Grande Rouelle (at least from the 2011 vintage).

Champagne growers

  • André Beaufort, has 6.5 ha of vineyards consisting of a smaller part in Ambonnay and a larger part in Polisy (in Barséquanais, Côte des Bar) and produces separate, village-designated Champagnes from these two villages. Has earlier produced truly sweet (doux) vintage Champagnes, also rosées, which is very rare. Has practiced organic viticulture since 1971.
  • Benoit Beaufort, a cooperative member (RC, recoltant-coopérateur).
  • Jean-Marie Beaufort, member of Vignerons Indépendants.
  • H. Billiot Fils, a good producer with 4.7 ha, all in Ambonnay, with 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay. Annual production is 45 000-49 000 bottles. Has two non-vintage prestige cuvées, Cuvée Laetitia (a cuvée from old vintages) and Cuvée Julie (produced in oak).
  • Brémont et Fils, also Bernard Brémont, a member of Vignerons Indépendants that has 15 ha of vineyards, of which 12 ha Pinot Noir and 3 ha Chardonnay.
  • René-Henri Coutier (även R.H. Coutier), a cooperative member (RC, recoltant-coopérateur, i.e., no production facility of their own today) who started to produce their own Champagnes in 1901 (then René-Henri’s grandfather), and who has been run by René-Henri since 1971. Has 9 ha of vineyards, of which 2/3 Pinot Noir and 1/3 Chardonnay. A part of the harvest is sold to other producers and the annual production under their own name is 25 000-50 000 bottles. The father of the present Coutier was apparently the first to have planted Chardonnay in Ambonnay in 1946, and Coutier sells a blanc de blancs produced only from Ambonnay Chardonnay. The cuvée Henri III, from 100% Pinot Noir, is produced in oak, but not the rest of the range.
  • Serge Demière, has vineyards in Bouzy and Ambonnay.
  • Paul Déthune, member of Vignerons Indépendants, a well-regarded producer with 7 ha of vineyards.
  • Egly-Ouriet, one of the very best Champagne growers and one of the leading producers of powerful Pinot Noir-based Champagne with oak. Makes it into most top ten lists of best Champagne growers champagne that have been drawn up, and this makes their Champagnes sought after. Today led by Francis Egly, and has about 12 ha of vineyards, most of it in Ambonnay and a smaller part in Vrigny. The two most ambitious Champagnes in the range is the vintage cuvée (about 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay) and a Blanc de Noirs (100% Pinot Noir), with the additional text Vieilles Vignes Les Crayères, sourced from a single vineyard planted in 1946. The separate bottling of this vineyard started in the 1989 vintage. A varietal Pinot Meunier from vineyards in Vrigny is produced under the name Les Vignes de Vrigny. Both disgorgement month and the length the bottle has been resting on the lees before disgorgement are indicated on all labels.
  • Fauvet Père et Fils
  • Dominique Foureur
  • Roger Gauthier
  • Charles Hubert et Fils
  • Daniel Hulin & Fils
  • Marie-Noëlle Ledru, has 2.5 ha of vineyards, of which 2 ha in Ambonnay and 0.5 ha in Bouzy. (Until some years ago the figure was 6 ha, of which 5 ha in Ambonnay and 1 ha in Bouzy, and included vineyards owned by other parts of the family and rented out.) Member of the “natural wines association” Terres et Vins de Champagne.
  • Marguet-Bonnerave (website not active in Aug 2014) – conflicting information indicates that Marguet-Bonnerave either has been merged into Marguet Père & Fils (see above), or exists in parallel.
  • Raymond Marlot
  • Jean Moreau
  • J. Pérard & Fils, produces about 46 000 bottles annually.
  • Payelle Père et Fils
  • Th. Petit
  • Serge Pierlot
  • Claude Remy (website, not active in Aug 2014)
  • Eric Rodez, often called just Rodez. A good biodynamic producer with 6 ha vineyards. Is member of the organisation Terroirs & Talents de Champagne.
  • Thierry Rodez, has 3.4 ha of vineyards.
  • Secondé-Simon, has 6 ha of vineyards.
  • Patrick Soutiran, member of Vignerons Indépendants.

Comment: the status as récoltant-manipulant (RM), i.e., genuine Champagne growers-producers, has not been verified for all of these. All small producers are placed under this heading when there is no other information. The list is probably not complete.

Cooperatives

  • Coopérative Vinicole d’Ambonnay, that started their activities in 1962, is since 1973 a member of the major cooperative Union Champagne (with De Saint Gall as their most famous brand). The 150 members have 140 ha of vineyards. The Champagnes have formerly been sold under the brand Nectar des Noirs. The production is sold by négociants (50%), by the members of the cooperative (35%), directly by the cooperative (5%), or goes to the common production of Union Champagne (10%).
    • Saint-Réol is the own brand by the cooperative, and the annual production is about 100 000 bottles.

Links

Video clip

A collage of pictures from the 2011 harvest in Ambonnay.

P.S. Despite the fact that both Ambonnay and Bouzy are quite well-known grand cru villages, there wasn’t that many pictures of them at Wikimedia Commons, see Category:Ambonnay and Category:Bouzy. For example, I haven’t been able to find a single real vineyard view from either village, or from the southern part of Grande Montagne de Reims. Therefore, this profile is less well-illustrated than I’d prefer, since that’s were I source almost all my pictures from. If there’s anyone who has suitable pictures that you’d like to release under a free license  (Creative Commons), it’d be quite  useful and nice if they could be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons.

© Tomas Eriksson 2014

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Champagne village profile: Bouzy in the Grande Montagne de Reims, a grand cru village

Key facts

Located in: Montagne & Val de Reims: Grande Montagne de Reims
Vineyards and grape varieties: 373.8 ha (923.7 acres), of which 87% Pinot Noir, 12% Chardonnay, and 0.2% Pinot Meunier.
Classification: Grand cru (100%)
Noted for: good Pinot Noir from south-facing slopes at a rather high altitude.

Map

The map is linked from Wikimedia Commons, and the geographical information originates from OpenStreetMap. The dotted white area corresponds to the vineyards, light yellow indicates other open terrain, and green indicates forest.

Neighbouring villages

East: Ambonnay (grand cru)
Southsouthwest: Tours-sur-Marne (grand cru)
Westnorthwest: Tauxières-Mutry (premier cru)
Northwest: Louvois (grand cru)
Comment: more links will be added when profiles of the other villages have been uploaded.

The town hall (mairie) of Bouzy. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo by G.Garitan, 2013).

The village

The church of Bouzy. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo by G.Garitan, 2013).

Bouzy is situated in a very favourable location on the south side of the Montagne de Reims hill. This location is shared with the neighbouring village, Ambonnay. From the easternmost houses of Bouzy to the westernmost in Ambonnay the distance is just about 700 m.

The Bouzy commune covers 626 ha (i.e., less than half of the surface of the commune, 252 ha, doesn’t consist of vineyards) and counts 936 inhabitants, referred to as bouzillons and bouzillonnes respectively.

Since alcoholic beverages are produced here, the name Bouzy tends to cause some amusement among English-language visitors. The same thing is true for the village of Dizy.

Vineyards

Vineyard in Bouzy. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo by Megan Mallen, 2010, originally from Flickr).

The vineyards consist almost exclusively of purely south-facing slopes on the  Montagne de Reims, mostly with Pinot Noir. Thanks to these south-facing slopes, the vineyards of Bouzy, together with those of Aÿ and the neighbour Ambonnay, are the source of some of the most powerful Pinot Noir wines of Champagne.

On the now-defunct échelle des crus, Bouzy was rated 100%, which made it a grand cru village. The neighbours Louvois and Ambonnay, the vineyards of which are continuous with those of Bouzy, are also classified grand cru.

The current vineyard surface in the Bouzy commune is 373.8 ha (923.7 acres), distributed over 187 vineyard owners (exploitants). There are 326.8 ha Pinot Noir (87%), 45.8 ha Chardonnay (12%), and 0.6 ha Pinot Meunier (0.2%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 371 ha.

Champagne houses that control vineyards in the village include Bollinger, Duval Leroy, Moët & Chandon, Mumm, Pol Roger och Taittinger.

Bouzy Rouge

Bouzy, with its south-facing vineyards, is one of a few Champagne villages with a strong tradition of also producing red wines. They are called Bouzy Rouge, but their appellation is Coteaux Champenois. About two-thirds of the Champagne producers in the village also sell Bouzy Rouge, but the total production is small, about 45 000 bottles in a good year. This is still a very significant portion of the total production of Coteaux Champenois, which is just about 100 000 bottles per year. However, rather than being bottles on its own, more of the red wines from Bouzy end up blended into rosé Champagnes. Here is a short news article (in French) on the subject of Bouzy Rouge.

Specific vineyard sites and vineyard-specific Champagnes

  • Clos Barnaut, a vineyard owned by Barnaut. From the 2004 vintage, Barnaut has produced something quite rare from this vineyard, a Coteaux Champenois Rosé, i.e. a still rosé (100% Pinot Noir).
  • Les Hauts Chemins. Maurice Vesselle produces a vineyard-designated Champagne (100% Pinot Noir) from this vineyard.
  • Les Maillerettes. Pierre Paillard produces a vineyard-designated Champagne (100% Pinot Noir), from a 0.32 ha plot planted in 1970. This vineyard is used by Pierre Paillard as a “mother vineyard” for replanting their other vineyards using massal selection.
  • Petit Clos. Jean Vesselle produces a vineyard-designated Champagne (100% Pinot Noir) from this vineyard. The size is 8.25 ha (unclear if this is the size of the whole vineyard or the surface owned by Jean Vesselle).

Champagne producers

Major Champagne houses, members of the Union des Maisons de Champagne

  • Brice, a Champagne house with 8 ha vineyards of their own, that buy in from some 20 ha, primarily in the grand cru villages Aÿ, Bouzy, Cramant, and Verzenay. Brice produces four different village-designated wines, from each of these.
  • Comtes de Dampierre, a house founded in 1986 by Comte Audoin de Dampierre. They have no vineyards of their own, everything is bought in, and the annual production is about 200 000 bottles. The Champagnes are produced under contract by one of the cooperatives in Bouzy, and warehousing is done in Avize. The count has managed to get his Champagne to be the house champagne in parts of the French government, including at the Elysée Palace and in many French embassies.

Champagne growers

  • Jean-Marie Bandock
  • Bandock-Mangin, has 11 ha of vineyards, mainly in Bouzy.
  • Christian Bannière (website not active i August 2014), has 4.21 ha of vineyards in Bouzy.
  • Paul Bara, a high class Special Club producer, perhaps the very best of them, that is today run by Chantal Bara. Has 11 ha of vineyards, of which 10.5 ha in Bouzy and 0.5 ha in Ambonnay, with 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Chardonnay. The annual production is 100 000 bottles. Other than a Special Club and a Special Club Rosé, the range also includes the prestige cuvée Comtesse Marie de France, a pure Pinot Noir. Naturally, there is also a Bouzy Rouge.
  • Barnaut, member of Vignerons Indépendants. Has about 16 ha of vineyards in Bouzy, Ambonnay, Louvois, Tauxières-Mutry, Brasles, and Gland (the last two located in the Vallée de la Marne Ouest) with 70% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, and 5% Pinot Meunier. The annual production is about 130 000 bottles. Produces a Coteaux Champenois Rosé from Clos Barnaut.
  • Herbert Beaufort, member of Vignerons Indépendants. Has 13 ha of vineyards, of which 10 ha Pinot Noir and 3 ha Chardonnay, and an annual production of 130 000 bottles.
  • Louis César Beaufort
  • Denis Chemin
  • André Clouet, a producer today led by Jean-François Clouet, that own 8 ha of vineyards. Their prestige cuvée is called Un Jour de 1911, is non-vintage, consists of 100% Pinot Noir and is an attempt at recreating how a good Champagne could be around the year of 1911, and comes in a roll of straw. All cuvées of André Clouet carry retro-styled labels.
  • Paul Clouet, member of Vignerons Indépendants. Has 6 ha of vineyards in Bouzy and Chouilly, and produces 50 000-60 000 bottles per year.
  • Gaston Collard, member of Vignerons Indépendants.
  • Raymond et Alexandre Colson
  • Dauvergne
  • Baron Dauvergne (formerly Hubert Dauvergne)
  • Delavenne Père et Fils
  • Fromentin Leclapart
  • Rémy Galichet, has 9 ha of vineyards in the Montagne de Reims, Côte des Blancs, and the Vallée de la Marne including in the Aisne department.
  • Remi Henry
  • Benoît Lahaye, member of Vignerons Indépendants. Has 4,5 ha of vineyards in Bouzy, Ambonnay, and Tauxières-Mutry, with almost only Pinot Noir. Benoît Lahaye took over the family property in 1993 and has produced his own Champagne since 1996. He started to convert to organic viticulture in 1996, was fully converted in 2003, became certified in 2007, and has changed to biodynamic viticulture from 2008. One of the new generation of growers that has received much attention.
  • Bernard Ledru, has 12 ha of vineyards, run by Michael and Isabelle Secondé.
  • Jean-Baptiste Martin
  • Paul Louis Martin
  • René Moreau
  • Pierre Paillard, has 11 ha of vineyards in Bouzy, with 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. Produces a vineyard-designated Champagne, Les Maillerettes, from 100% Pinot Noir.
  • Samuel Paveau, has 5 ha of vineyards.
  • Jean Plener Fils, has 6 ha of vineyards inBouzy, Ambonnay, and Tauxières-Mutry.
  • Camille Savès, a member of Vignerons Indépendants with a reputation for good quality. Has about 10 ha of vineyards in Bouzy, Ambonnay, Tours-sur-Marne, and Tauxières-Mutry.
  • Bernard Tornay. Bernard took over the former domain of his father-in-law Gaston Barnauts when he married Simone Barnaut. Today, the domaine is run by the daughter Nathalie Tornay and her husband Rudy Hutasse, who is winemaker at Tornay since 1997. The domaine has 23 ha of vineyards, of which 5.5 ha Chardonnay and the rest Pinot Noir. A part is sold in bulk, and the annual production is about 100 000 bottles. Also sells under the brand:
    • Fernand Hutasse et Fils
  • Alfred Tritant, member of Vignerons Indépendants. Has 2,5 ha of vineyards, mainly in Bouzy, but also in Ambonnay.
  • Alain Vesselle, today run by Eloi Vesselle.
  • Georges Vesselle, a producer run by the brothers Bruno and Eric Vesselle. Has 17 ha of vineyards, of which 90% Pinot Noir.
  • Jean Vesselle, member of Vignerons Indépendants. Has 15 ha of vineyards, in Bouzy with surroundings, and in Loches-sur-Ource in the Barséquanais are (in Côte des Bar), with 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay. Annual production is 120 000 bottles. Produces a vineyard-designated cuvée, Le Petit Clos, from 100% Pinot Noir.
  • Maurice Vesselle, member of Vignerons Indépendants, and run by the brothers Didier and Thierry Vesselle. Produces a vineyard-designated cuvée, Les Hauts Chemins, from 100% Pinot Noir.

Comment: the status as récoltant-manipulant (RM), i.e., genuine Champagne growers-producers, has not been verified for all of these. All small producers are placed under this heading when there is no other information. The list is probably not complete.

Cooperatives

  • Coopérative “Au Bouquet” de Bouzy is a small cooperative, founded in 1956, that has 46 members with a total of 33 ha in Bouzy and other “Pinot villages” in the Grande Montagne de Reims. Since 2009, this cooperative is a member of the large cooperative Union Champagne.
  • Coopérative Defynlieu, doesn’t seem to have a website and I have not found any brand that belongs to them.
  • Société d’Intérêts Vinicoles de Bouzy is a small cooperative, founded in 1959, with 32 members that own a total of 32 ha in Bouzy. Since 1978, they are members of the large cooperative Union Champagne.

Links

Video clips

A video from one of Paul Bara’s vineyards from just outside Bouzy.

© Tomas Eriksson 2014

Posted in Champagne villages | 2 Comments

Champagne village profile: Aÿ – famous grand cru village and the centre of the Grande Vallée de la Marne

Key facts

Located in: Vallée de la Marne: Grande Vallée de la Marne
Vineyards and grape varieties: 367 ha (906.9 acres), of which 89% Pinot Noir, 8% Chardonnay, and 3% Pinot Meunier.
Classification: Grand cru (100%)
Noted for: powerful Pinot Noir from south-facing slopes, one of a few villages that is able to produce good red wines, home village of Bollinger, Deutz, Gosset, and Ayala.

Map

The map is linked from Wikimedia Commons, and the geographical information originates from OpenStreetMap. The dotted white area corresponds to the vineyards, light yellow indicates other open terrain, and green indicates forest.

Neighbouring villages

West: Dizy (premier cru)
Norrthwest: Champillon (premier cru)
Northnortheast: Mutigny (premier cru)
East: Mareuil-sur-Aÿ (premier cru)
South: Chouilly (grand cru), part of Côte des Blancs
Southwest: Épernay, part of Côteaux Sud d’Épernay
Comment: more links will be added when profiles of the other villages have been uploaded.

The church in Aÿ, Église Saint-Brice. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo by October Ends, 2009).

The village

With its slightly more than 4000 inhabitants, Aÿ is the largest of the “villages” of Champagne, and could just as well be called a small town. It has a bit more to offer tourists than many of the other villages, and here we find the largest collection of well-known Champagne houses outside of Reims and Épernay.

The Aÿ commune covers 1043 ha and counts 4041 inhabitants (as of 2011), referred to as agéens and agéennes respectively.

Already early in the history of wine, when the Champagne region produced still wines, Aÿ was a wine village with an excellent reputation, and was something of a centre for wine production in this part of the region. The designation Aÿ wine was sometimes used for the wines from the whole area around the village, and sometimes the Champagne wines as a whole. King Henri IV (or Henry IV in English), ruler of France 1589-1610, on occasion styled himself Sire d’Aÿ et de Gonesse, from the sources of his country’s best wine and best wheat. The village feast of Aÿ is therefore named in honour of Henri IV. (Possibly, François I/Francis I, king 1515-1547, also used this style.)

Aÿ is the home of Villa Bissinger, which houses the Institut International des Vins de Champagne. Their activities include courses under the name École des Vins de Champagne.

The most ambitious restaurant of Aÿ is Le Vieux Puits/Les Clos St Georges.

The entranc to Aÿ along the D1 road from the westm, i.e., from the Dizy direction. The vineyards on the left belong to Moët & Chandon. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo by October Ends, 2009).

Vineyards

The vineyards are predominantly south-facing, and mostly contain Pinot Noir. The inclination varies in different Aÿ vineyards, and some hills behind the village are where the steepest vineyards can be found. The vineyards of Aÿ are often the source of the most powerful Pinot Noir wines of Champagne, since they are at a lower altitude than those of Bouzy and Ambonnay, the main competitors in the powerful Pinot category.

On the now-defunct échelle des crus, Aÿ was rated 100%, which made it a grand cru village. Aÿ is therefore rated higher than all its immediate neighbours. The other eight villages in the Grande Vallée de la Marne, all of which are on the same side of the Marne river as Aÿ, are all premier cru villages that were rated 93%-99% on this scale.

The current vineyard surface in the Aÿ commune is 367 ha (906.9 acres), distributed over 241 vineyard owners (exploitants). There are 325.4 ha Pinot Noir (89%), 30.8 ha Chardonnay (8%), and 10.2 ha Pinot Meunier (3%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 351 ha.

Champagne houses that control vineyards in the village include Bollinger, Duval Leroy, Moët & Chandon, Mumm, Perrier-Jouët, Philipponnat, Piper Heidsieck, and Roederer.

Vineyards just north of Aÿ, i.e., in the slope above the village. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo by Pline, 2012).

Specific vineyard sites and vineyard-designated wines

  • Clos Chaudes Terres, one of two vineyard sites that are used by Bollinger for their Vieilles Vignes Françaises, a cuvée exclusively from ungrafted Pinot Noir. Located immediately behind the facilities of Bollinger in the direction of the slope.
  • Clos St.-Jacques, one of two vineyard sites that are used by Bollinger for their Vieilles Vignes Françaises, a cuvée exclusively from ungrafted Pinot Noir. This wall-enclosed vineyard is located inside the village, just below the slope.
  • Côte aux Enfants, a steep vineyard where Bollinger owns 4 ha (they are possibly the only owner). The vineyard is used for the vineyard-designated red wine produced by Bollinger. Rather small amounts of this wine is bottled, and the rest probably ends up as the red wine component of La Grande Année Rosé.
  • La Côte Faron, a vineyard north of the village, in a rather steep slope that is almost directly south-facing. This is the source of one of vineyard-designated Champagnes (lieux-dits) from Jacques Selosses, produced from 100% Pinot Noir.It receives an oxidative oak treatment in solera, and is non-vintage. The first release under this name was disgorged in 2010, and the base vintage for that release was 2003. Earlier, Selosse used this vineyard to produce his cuvée Contraste.
  • Le Léon, a vineyard located just below the D1 road between Dizy and Aÿ, i.e., in the direction of the Marne canal seen from the road, and on both sides of the commune border between Dizy and Aÿ. According to legend, this vineyard was the source of the Aÿ wine favoured by the 16th century pope Leo X.
  • La Pelle, a south-facing slope. Roger Brun produces a vineyard-designated Pinot Noir from this vineyard.
  • Vauzelle Terme, a south-facing slope in the western part of Aÿ, close to the border with Dizy and just above the D1 road. The soil is limestone with gravel over chalk. One of Jacquesson’s Lieux-Dits wine is produced from this vineyard. Jacquesson (the house is located in Dizy) only owns a small portion of this vineyard, and their 0.30 ha were planted with Pinot Noir in 1980.

Champagne producers

The buildings of Ayala in Aÿ. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo by G.Garitan, 2013).

Major champagne houses, members of the Union des Maisons de Champagne

  • Ayala, now owned by Bollinger. It is easy to think that the name of the house is connected to the village name, but it actually comes from the founder Edmond de Ayala, who started his activities in 1860. René Chayoux bought the house in 1937 and fused it with the Champagne house Montebello of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ to create Ayala-Montebello. Jean-Michel Ducellier (1918-2003) took over Ayala-Montebello after the widow of Chayoux (who lived 10 years longer than him, until 1979), but focussed more on activities in Champagne organisations than on his own Champagne house. Jean-Jacques Frey bought Ayala in 2000 by the son Alain Ducellier. Bollinger bought Ayala in 2005, and this seems to have provided more stability than before. Compared to Bollinger, Ayala produces Champages with a higher proportion of Chardonnay – the range also includes some blanc de blancs – and in a drier style.
  • Bollinger – a very famous Champagne house founded in 1829 by Athanase de Villermont, Joseph Bollinger, and Paul Renaudin as Renaudin-Bollinger & Cie. Some generations later, in 1920, Jacques Bollinger took over and led the house through a difficult time consisting both of the Great Depression and the first years of World War II. The actual holding company of Bollinger carries his name, Société Jacques Bollinger (SJB). His widow Madame Elizabeth “Lily” Bollinger (who was of Scottish origin) took over after his death. Bollinger has 164 ha of vineyards, their Champagnes are always Pinot Noir dominated, produced in a powerful style, and with at least some degree of oxidative oak treatment. Rather than a clear division into a regular vintage Champagne and a prestige cuvée, Bollinger has a powerful vintage Champagne that is first released under the name La Grande Année, which then returns after a longer time on the yeast as R.D. (récemment dégorgé or recently disgorged), then as an Extra Brut. The first vintage of R.D. was the 1952, and not quite all vintages of La Grande Année make it to an R.D. release. La Grande Année (but not R.D.) also exists in a rosé version. The house also produces a small amount of a very special prestige Champagne by the name Vieilles Vignes Françaises, sourced from two (used to be three) small plots with ungrafted Pinot Noir. The range also includes a red wine called Côte aux Enfants. Bollinger is also known for featuring frequently in the James Bond films. Bollinger (or rather SJB) is also the owner of the Champagne house Ayala, the Loire producer Langlois-Château, the Burgundy négociant Chanson Père & Fils, and Cognac Delamain.
  • Edouard Brun & Cie – a house founded in 1898 that has 8 ha of their own vineyards, in Chigny-les-Roses, Ludes, Rilly, and around Aÿ. The annual production is 250 000 bottles. The prestige cuvée is called l’Elégant and exists in white and rosé versions.
  • Deutz – a good-quality Champagne house founded in 1838 by William Deutz and Pierre-Hubert Geldermann, and originally called Deutz Geldermann. Roederer bought Deutz in 1983. Deutz has 37 ha of vineyards, and 80% of the grape supply comes from grand cru and premier cru villages. The traditional prestige cuvée is called William Deutz, is produced in white and rosé versions, and is highly regarded by many Champagne fans. Later, a blanc de blancs by the name Amour de Deutz has been added to the prestige range, and thanks to its transparent bottle (notice the owner…) and some celebrity endorsements it has received more “bling” attention than the older prestige cuvées of Deutz.

The entrance to the Deutz facilites in Aÿ. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo by G.Garitan, 2013).

  • Henri Giraud – a producer with a powerful style and a rather generous use of oak, and with rather peculiar retro-styled bottles for the more expensive parts of the range as well as the origin of the oak specified for some cuvées. Has 9 ha of their own vineyards. The basic level Esprit (apparently the name is about to change) is usually quite good, the top cuvées are fairly high in price.
  • Gosset – a high-quality house founded in 1584 by Pierre Gosset and is therefore the oldest company that is a Champagne house. However, they initially didn’t deal in Champagne (so Ruinart is older as a Champagne house). The style is characterised by high acidity (no malolactic), a touch of oxidative vinification and low dosage. Of their two non-vintage Champagnes, the better one, Grande Réserve, is usually considered a definite step up from the entry-level one, Excellence. The prestige cuvée is called Celebris, and exists in a regular white version, a rosé version, and a rather rare non-vintage blanc de blancs.
  • Lallier (also René James Lallier) – Francis Tribaut bought the company in 2004, the price was 17 million euro and 12 ha of vineyards were included in the deal, of which 8 ha grand cru. States that they have 50 ha vingårdar, of which a large part in Aÿ, but this number likely includes vineyards not owned by them, from which they source grapes.
  • Malard, a Champagne house founded in 1996 by Jean-Louis Malard. The company has its seat in Aÿ, but the production facility is located in Oiry. The annual production is 1.3 million bottles. The prestige cuvée is called Lady Style and was launched in 2012.

Other champagne houses/négociants

Champagne growers

    • Hubert Ballu
    • Roger Brun, the range includes e.g. a vintage Champagne named Cuvée des Sires (70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay from Aÿ) and a vineyard-designated 100% Pinot Noir from the vineyard La Pelle, both with some oak.
    • Dauby, member of Vignerons Indépendants, has 8 ha of vineyards in five villages including Aÿ and the premier cru villages Mutigny, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, and Avenay-Val-d’Or.
    • De Méric, a producer founded in 1960 by Christian Besserat, the year after the family had sold their Champagne house Besserat de Bellefon (located in Épernay and today part of the Lanson-BCC group). In 1997, the company was sold to American businessman Daniel E. Ginsburg, and in 2009 Reynald Leclaire took over. Annual production is about 50 000 bottles.
    • Ferry
    • Régis Fliniaux, has 2.5 ha of vineyards, mainly in Aÿ, but also a smaller part in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ (0.25 ha) and Dizy (0.10 ha).
    • Gatinois, an excellent producer who produces Champagnes in a powerful but unoaked style using about 90% Pinot Noir. Also produces a good red wine.
    • Geoffroy (also René Geoffroy), member of Vignerons Indépendants. Has 14 ha of vineyards, of which 11 ha in Cumières, where they were formerly located.
    • Serge Godme
    • Gosset-Brabant, has just under 10 ha of vineyards, of which 5 ha in Aÿ, 0.45 ha in Chouilly, and a total of 4 ha in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, Dizy, and Avenay-Val-d’Or with 75% Pinot Noir, 10% Pinot Meunier, and 15% Chardonnay.
    • Henri Goutorbe, a Special Club producer and member of Vignerons Indépendants. Run by René Goutorbe. Has 22 ha of vineyards in Aÿ, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, Mutigny, Bisseuil, Avenay-Val-d’Or, Cumières, Hautvillers, Gyé, and Sezanne with 25 % Chardonnay, 70% Pinot Noir, and 5% Pinot Meunier. The annual production is 180 000 bottles.
    • Alain Grillat & Fils
    • Sylvain Guinard
    • Hamm
    • Pascal Hénin, member of Vignerons Indépendants, has vineyards in Aÿ, Chouilly, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, Dizy, Cerseuil, and Troissy.
    • Hénin-Delouvin, member of Vignerons Indépendants, has 7 ha of vineyards in Aÿ, Chouilly, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, Dizy, Grauves, and Cerseuil.
    • Jeanne Husson
    • Georges Lacombe, has 12 ha of vineyards, of which 9 ha in the Vallée de la Marne (7 ha Pinot Meunier and 2 ha Chardonnay) and 3 ha in the Montagne de Reims (Pinot Noir).
    • Pierre Leboeuf
    • Christophe Luc
    • Eric Luc
    • Michel Nicaise
    • Michel-Gentilhomme

This globe and fountain is located at the intersection of Rue Marcel Mailly, Rue de la Brèche, Rue Jules Lobet, and Rue Paul Bert, and at this small square, Richard-Fliniaux is also located. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo by Garitan, 2012).

  • Richard-Fliniaux, the Champagnes are also sold under the names:
    • J.J. Richard & Fils
    • Henri IV
  • André Roger, has 5.5 ha of vineyards (mainly grand cru), of which 4.6 ha Pinot Noir and 0.9 ha Chardonnay.
  • P. M. Roger & Fils (also Henri Roger & Fils and Roger Père & Fils), has 4.5 ha of vineyards, mainly in Aÿ.
  • René Roger, annual production 35 000-40 000 bottles.

Comment: the status as récoltant-manipulant (RM), i.e., genuine Champagne growers-producers, has not been verified for all of these. All small producers are placed under this heading when there is no other information. The list is probably not complete.

Cooperatives

  • Association Coopérative de Viticulteurs de Premiers Crus de la Marne à Ay (A.C.V.P.C.M. à Ay, also called Coopérative de la Brèche) – one of the cooperatives that are members of Union Champagne. It is a small cooperative with 90 members that have a total of 18 ha. Their own brand is called De la Brêche.
  • COGEVI – Coopérative General des Vignerons – an old and large cooperative founded in 1921. The members have 670 ha of vineyards, the production capacity is 10 million bottles per year, and their have cellars with a storage capacity of 34 million bottles. Besides the “Collet plant” in Aÿ, there is a production facility in Oger. The Champagnes are sold under three brands, one which is their own and two that are produced in cooperation with other cooperatives:
    • Collet (earlier written Raoul Collet) – COGEVI’s own brand, with a presence in Aÿ.
    • Jacquart – owned by COGEVI together with l’Union Auboise and COVAMA. Jacquart is located in Reims and was founded in 1964.
    • Montaudon is a brand that belongs together with Jacquart, i.e., it is owned by  COGEVI together with l’Union Auboise and COVAMA and has a presence in Reims.

An interesting historical picture. In connection with the Champagne riots 1911, many Champagne houses were stormed and wrecked by angry vine growers, including in Aÿ. Here a picture of the house Ducoin, which suffered an arson attack on 12 April 1911. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (uploaded by JPS68).

Links

Video clips

A video collage composed of old postcards from the 20th century, featuring views of Aÿ.

A video quickly showing a year in the Aÿ vineyards of Roger Brun.

© Tomas Eriksson 2014, last updated 2014-08-25

Posted in Champagne villages | Leave a comment

Champagne village profile: Louvois, a grand cru village in the Grande Montagne de Reims

Key facts

Located in: Montagne & Val de Reims: Grande Montagne de Reims
Vineyards and grape varieties: 41 ha (101.3 acres), of which 82% Pinot Noir, 18% Chardonnay, and 0,2% Pinot Meunier.
Classification: Grand cru (100%)
Noted for: Pinot Noir from grand cru vineyards.

Map

The map is linked from Wikimedia Commons, and the geographical information originates from OpenStreetMap. The dotted white area corresponds to the vineyards, light yellow indicates other open terrain, and green indicates forest.

Neighbouring villages

Southwest: Tauxières-Mutry (premier cru)
Southeast: Bouzy (grand cru)
Comment: more links will be added when profiles of the other villages have been uploaded.

The town hall (mairie) of Louvois. The pictures is linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo by G.Garitan, 2013).

The village

Louvois is located on the south side of the Montagne de Reims, where the landscape changes from vineyards and open land and vineyards to forest above Tauxières-Mutry and Bouzy. The vineyards are located at the southern edge of the commune.

The Louvois commune covers 1217 ha and counts 324 inhabitants (as of 2011), referred to as louveteaux.

In Louvois, there is a palace of the name Château de Louvois, with a history going back to the 13th century although the present buildings were reconstructed in the 19th century. Since 1989, it is owned by Laurent-Perrier.

Château de Louvois. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo by G.Garitan, 2012).

Vineyards

The vineyards, which are located exclusive in the southern outskirts of the commune, are continuous with those of Bouzy. The commune border goes straight through (or rather, follows a zig-zag pattern through) the vineyards northwest of Bouzy. On the now-defunct  échelle des crus, Louvois was rated 100%, which has made it a grand cru village in similarity to its neighbour Bouzy, while the other neighbouring village Tauxières-Mutry was rated 99% and became a premier cru.

The current vineyard surface in the Louvois commune is 41 ha (101.3 acres), distributed over 40 vineyard owners (exploitants). There are 33.4 ha Pinot Noir (82%), 7.5 ha Chardonnay (18%), and 0.1 ha Pinot Meunier (0.2%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 41 ha.

Champagne houses that control vineyards in the village include Bollinger, Piper Heidsieck, and Roederer.

Champagne producers

Major Champagne houses, members of Union des Maisons de Champagne

  • Laurent-Perrier’s Château de Louvois is located in the village, but their main site is in Tours-sur-Marne.

Champagne growers

  • André Boever, member of Vignerons Indépendants.
  • Pierre Boever, see also the video clip below.
  • Eric Bunel,
  • Guy de Chassey, member of Vignerons Indépendants, has 9.5 ha of vineyards in Louvois, Bouzy, and Tauxières-Mutry, with 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay.
  • Serge Faÿe
  • Guy Mea, member of Vignerons Indépendants.
  • Pierson Cuvelier, member of Vignerons Indépendants, has 12 ha of vineyards and an annual production of about 100 000 flaskor.

Comment: the status as récoltant-manipulant (RM), i.e., genuine Champagne growers-producers, has not been verified for all of these. All small producers are placed under this heading when there is no other information. The list is probably not complete.

Other

  • Distillerie Guillon, a producer of single malt whisky, is also located in Louvois. Apparently, quite a bit of barley is produed in Ardennes-Champagne region, so sourcing malt locally is no problem.

Links

Video clips

A video collage composed of old postcards from the 20th century, featuring views of Louvois.

In the TV series Oz and James’s Big Wine Adventure (2006), Oz Clarke and James May made a visit to Pierre Boever in Louvois.

The whole episode on Champagne can be seen in two parts here and here.

© Tomas Eriksson 2014

Posted in Champagne villages | Leave a comment

Champagne village profile: Tauxières-Mutry in the Grande Montagne de Reims

Key facts

Located in: Montagne & Val de Reims: Grande Montagne de Reims
Vineyards and grape varieties: 238.5 ha (589.3 acres), of which 79% Pinot Noir, 16% Chardonnay, and 5% Pinot Meunier.
Classification: Premier cru (99%)
Noted for: good Pinot Noir, one of the two most highly rated premier cru villages.

Map

The map is linked from Wikimedia Commons, and the geographical information originates from OpenStreetMap. The dotted white area corresponds to the vineyards, light yellow indicates other open terrain, and green indicates forest.

Neighbouring villages

West: Fontaine-sur-Aÿ
Northeast: Louvois (grand cru)
Eastsoutheast: Bouzy (grand cru)
Southsoutheast: Tours-sur-Marne (grand cru)
Southsouthwest: Bisseuil (premier cru), part of Grande Vallée de la Marne
Comment: more links will be added when profiles of the other villages have been uploaded.

The chuch in Tauxières-Mutry. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo by G.Garitan, 2013).

The village

Tauxières-Mutry, often referred to as Tauxières for short, is located in the slopes northeast of Aÿ and west of Ambonnay.

The Tauxières-Mutry commune covers 1017 ha and countes 284 inhabitants (as of 2011), referred to as tauxièrois and tauxièroises respectively.

Vineyards

The vineyards consist predominantley of south-facing slopes located to west of Bouzy, and contain mostly Pinot Noir.

The current vineyard surface in the commune is 238.5 ha (589.3 acres), distributed over 45 vineyard owners (exploitants). There are 189 ha Pinot Noir (79%), 37.7 ha Chardonnay (16%), and 11.9 ha Pinot Meunier (5%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 234 ha.

The premier cru status – one of two premier cru villages with the highest classification

While there are 17 Champagne villages classified grand cru, which means that they were rated 100% on the now-defunct échelle des crus scale, there were only two villages at 99%, Tauxières-Mutry and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. All 44 byar that in the range 90%-99% were (and are) classified premier cru, but all the other 42 are in the range 90%-95% and there were no villages in the range 96%-98%. Therefore, Tauxières-Mutry and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ narrowly missed out on becoming grand cru villages.

Specific vineyard sites and vineyard-designated Champagnes

  • Croix Rouge, was used until 2004 in Bollinger’s Vieilles Vignes Françaises, that is only produced from ungrafted vines of Pinot Noir, formerly from three vineyards, of which the other two are located in Aÿ. The vines in Tauxières were then affected by the wine louse. (It is slightly unclear to me if this vineyard was included in this cuvée up until the 2004 vintage, or if it “gave up its breath” in 2004, before the harvest.)

Champagne producers

Champagne growers

  • Banette, has 11 ha of vineyards, of which 3 ha in the Aube (Côte des Bar), and also in Tauxières-Mutry, Louvois, Bouzy, and Aÿ.
  • Barbier-Louvet, member of Vignerons Indépendants. Has vineyards in nine villages.
  • Stéphane Brunet
  • Max Cochut
  • Yannick l’Hôpital
  • Honoré Leblanc, member of Vignerons Indépendants
  • Hubert Leblanc
  • Leblanc-Collard
  • Lejeune-Dirvang, member of Vignerons Indépendants. Has 4 ha of vineyards in the grand cru villages Bouzy, Louvois, and Aÿ, and the premier cru villages Tauxières-Mutry, Avenay-Val-d’Or, and Dizy.
  • Yves Louvet, has 12 ha of vineyards (10 ha Pinot Noir and 2 ha Chardonnay) in the  premier cru villages Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, Tauxières-Mutry and Avenay-Val-d’Or, and the grand cru villages Louvois, Bouzy, Ambonnay, Trepail, and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Annual production is about 40 000 bottles.

Comment: the status as récoltant-manipulant (RM), i.e., genuine Champagne growers-producers, has not been verified for all of these. All small producers are placed under this heading when there is no other information. The list is probably not complete.

Cooperative

  • Coopérative Vinicole de Tauxières Louvois, doesn’t seem to have a website. I have not found any brands that belong to them.

Links

© Tomas Eriksson 2014

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