Champagne village profile: Couvignon in the Bar-sur-Aubois

Diagram Couvignon 201608Key facts

Located in subregion/area: Côte des Bar / Bar-sur-Aubois
Vineyards and grape varieties: 110.2 hectares (272.3 acres), of which 85% Pinot Noir, 11% Chardonnay, and 4% Pinot Meunier.
Classification: ”Autre cru” (80%)

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 is other open terrain, orange is built-up areas, and green indicates forest.


Google Maps view with the villages in the Bar-sur-Aubois highlighted.

Clicking on a village opens a field to the left with a link to the village profile, if it exists.

Neighbouring villages within the Champagne appellation

North: Spoy (a narrow strip of that commune)
Northeast: Proverville
Eastnortheast: Bar-sur-Aube
East: Fontaine
Eastsoutheast: Baroville
Southsoutheast: Bergères
West: Meurville
Comment: the remaining links will be added when the profiles of those villages have been posted.

The village

The church in Couvignon, Église Saint-Martin. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Gérard Janot, 2009).

Couvignon is located at the stream La Pierre which empties into Le Landion in Meurville, the neighbouring commune.

The commune includes both Couvignon itself and the hamlet Val Perdu, located further to the east.

The Couvignon commune covers 1343 hectares and has 207 inhabitants (as of  2013), referred to as Couvignonais and Couvignonaises.

Vineyards

The vineyards in Couvignon are located on slopes around the village, on both sides of La Pierre. The direction of the slopes are very varying, and include both north- and south-facing slopes. Pinot Noir is the dominating grape variety.

The current vineyard surface in the Couvignon commune is 110.2 hectares (272.3 acres). There are 93.3 ha Pinot Noir (84.7%), 12.6 ha Chardonnay (11.4%), 4.1 ha Pinot Meunier (3.7%), and 0.2 ha others (0.2%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 87 ha. There are 23 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Champagne producers

Champagne growers

Producer status is indicated where known: RM = récoltant-manipulant, or grower-producers. RC = récoltant-coopérateur, growers that are cooperative members but sell Champagnes under their own name.

  • Pascal Coquard (RC)
  • Bernard Gonet (RC)
  • Alain Grandremy

Comment: the list may be incomplete.

Links

© Tomas Eriksson 2016

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Champagne village profile: Meurville in the Bar-sur-Aubois

Diagram Meurville 201608Key facts

Located in subregion/area: Côte des Bar / Bar-sur-Aubois
Vineyards and grape varieties: 165.0 hectares (407.7 acres), of which 78% Pinot Noir, 14% Chardonnay, 6% Pinot Meunier, and 1% others.
Classification: ”Autre cru” (80%)

Maps

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


Google Maps view with the villages in the Bar-sur-Aubois highlighted.

Clicking on a village opens a field to the left with a link to the village profile, if it exists.

Neighbouring villages within the Champagne appellation

North: Spoy
Northeast: Couvignon
Eastsoutheast: Bergères
South: Bligny
Comment: the remaining links will be added when the profiles of those villages have been posted.

The church in Meurville. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Gérard Janot, 2009).

The village

Meurville is located at Le Landion, which is the main river in the western part of the Bar-sur-Aube area.

The Meurville commune covers 1635 hectares and has 178 inhabitants (as of 2013), referred to as Meurvillats and Meurvillates.

Vineyards

The vineyards in Meurville are located on slopes in different parts of the commune, on both banks of Le Landion. The largest block is found south/southwest of the village, around a hill. West/northwest of the village there is another block. In the southeastern part of the commune (around the buildings of the cooperative) there is a block which is a continuation of the vineyards in Bergères. In the northeastern part of the commune, there is a block which is a continuation of the vineyards in Couvignon. The direction of the slope varies, but Pinot Noir is the most common grape variety by a wide margin.

In Meurville, there is a substantial proportion of Portlandian soils rather than just the Kimmeridgian soils (Kimmeridgian clay) that make about around 95% of the soils in the vineyards in the Côte des Bar. Portlandian soils are considered to be more suitable for Pinot Noir, while Kimmeridgian soils (which also is the soil type in Chablis) is more suited for Chardonnay. Portlandian soils are geologically somewhat younger than Kimmeridgian soils and lacks fossils.

The current vineyard surface in the Meurville commune is 165.0 hectares (407.7 acres). There are 129.3 ha Pinot Noir (78.4%), 23.6 ha Chardonnay (14.3%), 10.4 ha Pinot Meunier (6.3%), and 1.7 ha others (1.0%), which is likely to include Pinot Blanc. Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 151 ha. There are 64 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Champagne producers

Champagne growers

Producer status is indicated where known: RM = récoltant-manipulant, or grower-producers. RC = récoltant-coopérateur, growers that are cooperative members but sell Champagnes under their own name.

  • Alain Borde (RC)
  • Odile Borde (RC)
  • Jérôme Cothias (RM)
  • Christian Etienne (RM), a member of Vignerons Indépendants with around 12 ha of vineyards around Meurville. The range includes a vintage Champagne composed of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir (refers to the 2010 vintage). The company name is Domaine de l’Espérance.
  • Fabrice Etienne (RM)
  • Frédéric Etienne (RM), uses the style Etienne Frederic on the label. The company name is Etienne Chevry. There are also bottles with the producer code RC, but I think these are older.
  • Laurent Etienne (RM), with the company name Bouchenot.
  • Benoît Gaullet
  • David Leboucher (RM)
  • Rémi Leroy (RM, Facebook page), a member of Des pieds et des vins with 8.5 hectares of vineyards with 72% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay, and 8% Pinot Meunier. Parts of the harvest is sold and the annual production under their own name is about 10 000 flaskor. Partially uses vinification in oak barrels. The range includes two vintage Champagnes, a Blanc de Noirs which is a varietal Pinot Noir, and a Blanc de Blancs which is a fully oak barrel-vinified Chardonnay (refers to the 2009 vintage). The back label indicates the exact composition (grape varieties, vintages) as well as disgorgement month and level of dosage.
  • Perron-Beauvineau (RC, Facebook page). The range includes two vintage Champagnes: Cuvée des 3 Cèdres which is composed of 60% Pinot Meunier, 20% Chardonnay, and 20% Pinot Noir, while Cuvée Abraham Vieilles Vignes is composed of 1/3 each of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Noir from old vines (refers to the 2004 vintage, which was launched in 2014).
    • Their website includes a page on bibliography of Champagne, which can be recommended for those who are interested in books (mostly in French) with a focus on history and details of this wine region.
  • Yoan Tapprest (RM), has 1.5 ha of vineyards.
  • Vendémiaire An XIII, has 4.3 ha of vineyards with 60% Pinot Noir, 10% Pinot Meunier, and 30% Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. Led since 2006 by Sophie Ducceschi. The name is taken from the Republican calendar, which was reset to zero and changed the name of all months, all in the name of the revolutionary spirit. Vendémiaire is the harvest month and An XIII corresponds to 1804 according to the Gregorian calendar, the year the first members of the family were born in Frankrike, after having immigrated from Hungary.

Comment: the list may be incomplete.

Cooperative

When bottles are sold directly by a cooperative the producer status is given as CM = coopérative de manipulation, as opposed to RC when sold by a cooperative member under their own name.

Gaston Cheq, the way he looked around 1911. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons.

  • Coopérative Vinicole des Coteaux du Landion is a cooperative in Meurville founded in 1961, which has 80 members with 176 ha of vineyards. Their buildings are located in the southeastern part of the commune, in the direction toward Bergères. The own Champagnes are sold under the brand:
    • Gaston Cheq, which takes its name from the leader of the uprising of the vine growers in Aube in 1911, when they protested against Aube being excluded from the Champagne wine region.

Video clip

A video clip from a … flight over Meurville, with landing taking place just south of the village.

Links

© Tomas Eriksson 2016, last updated 2016-08-30

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Champagne village profile: Bergères in the Bar-sur-Aubois

Diagram Bergères 201608Key facts

Located in subregion/area: Côte des Bar / Bar-sur-Aubois
Vineyards and grape varieties:
 95.3 hectares (235.5 acres), of which 84% Pinot Noir, 12% Chardonnay, and 4% Pinot Meunier.
Classification: ”Autre cru” (80%)
Not to be confused with: Bergères-lès-Vertus, a premier cru village in the Côte des Blancs, or Bergères-sous-Montmirail, a village in the Val du Petit Morin.

Maps

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

Google Maps view with the villages in the Bar-sur-Aubois highlighted.

Clicking on a village opens a field to the left with a link to the village profile, if it exists.

Neighbouring villages within the Champagne appellation

North: Couvignon
South: Urville
Westsouthwest: Bligny
Westnorthwest: Meurville

The village

The church in Bergères, Église Saint-Martin, with vineyards in the background. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Gérard Janot, 2009).

Bergères is located at the stream La Gironde, which empties into Le Landion in the southern part of the neighbouring commune Meurville.

The Bergères commune covers 581 hectares and has 123 inhabitants (as of 2013), referred to as Bahuts and Bahutes.

Vineyards

The vineyards in Bergères is mostly located in a large block that stretches from east to west through the commune, and runs into three side valleys along the way. All vineyards are located on slopes, with a large proportion of south-facing slopes, although there are also other directions. The vineyards are dominated by Pinot Noir.

The current vineyard surface in the Bergères commune is 95.3 hectares (235.5 acres). There are 79.7 ha Pinot Noir (83.6%), 11.8 ha Chardonnay (12.4%), and 3.8 ha Pinot Meunier (4.0%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 89 ha. There are 30 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Champagne producers

Champagne growers

Producer status is indicated where known: RM = récoltant-manipulant, or grower-producers. RC = récoltant-coopérateur, growers that are cooperative members but sell Champagnes under their own name.

  • Patrice Bour
  • Coquard-Bour (RM), a member of Terra Vitis which has their vineyards in Spoy. The first own Champagnes were launched in 2010, after the current generation took over in 2007. The range includes a vintage Champagne composed of 65% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir, and 10% Pinot Meunier (refers to the 2010 vintage).
  • Poissenot-Berthelot (RM)
  • Claude Prieur (RM), a member of Vignerons Indépendants and Terra Vitis. The range includes a vintage Champagne. The top Champagne is called P and is a non-vintage blanc de noirs with 100% Pinot Noir.
  • Claude Rigollot & Fils (RC), has just over 6.5 ha of vineyards with mostly Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. The range includes a vintage Champagne composed of 1/3 each of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Noir.
  • Rigollot-Mandelli (RC), has 8.5 ha of vineyards in Bergères and Baroville.

Comment: the list may be incomplete.

The wine growers in Bergères participate in the protests in the departemental capital Troyes in connection with the 1911 Champagne riots, when they protested against the exclusion of Aube from what was to become the Champagne appellation. The leader of the riots, Gaston Cheq, has lended his name to the cooperative in the neighbouring village Meurville. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons.

Links

© Tomas Eriksson 2016, last update 2016-08-30

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Champagne village profile: Urville in the Bar-sur-Aubois

Diagram Urville 201608Key facts

Located in subregion/area: Côte des Bar / Bar-sur-Aubois
Vineyards and grape varieties:
 188.3 hectares (465.3 acres), of which 76% Pinot Noir, 14% Chardonnay, 8% Pinot Meunier, and 2.2% others.
Classification: ”Autre cru” (80%)
Noted for: home village of the Champagne house Drappier.

Maps

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

Google Maps view with the villages in the Bar-sur-Aubois highlighted.

Clicking on a village opens a field to the left with a link to the village profile, if it exists.

Neighbouring villages within the Champagne appellation

North: Bergères
Northeast: Couvignon (a strip of that commune)
Eastnortheast: Baroville
East: Arconville
South: Champignol-lez-Mondeville
West: Bligny
Comment: the remaining links will be added when the profiles of those villages have been posted.

The church in Urville. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Gérard Janot, 2009).

The village

Urville is located at the stream Le Requin, which empties into Le Landion in Bligny, the neighbouring commune.

The Urville commune covers 1220 hectares and has 142 inhabitants (as of 2013) referred to as Urvillais and Urvillaises.

Vineyards

The vineyards in Urville are mainly located in a large block (which has an elongated shape in the east-west direction) directly at the village, and mostly consists of south-facing slopes. There is also some vineyards in the southern and southwestern parts of the commune, close to the borders to Champignol-lez-Mondeville and Bligny. Pinot Noir is by far the most common grape variety.

The current vineyard area in the Urville commune is 188.3 hectares (465.3 acres). There are 142.6 ha Pinot Noir (75.7%), 25.9 ha Chardonnay (13.8%), 15.7 ha Pinot Meunier (8.3%), and 4.1 ha others (2.2%), which is likely to include Pinot Blanc. Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 145 ha. There are 37 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Drappier states on their website that the first Pinot Noir in the Bar-sur-Aube canton was planted in the early 1930s. It is likely that those vines primarily replaced Gamay, which used to be common in the Côte des Bar, but which is said to have never resulted in any really good Champagnes.

Single vineyard sites

Single vineyard sites in Urville include the following, among others:

  • Le Cendre and Les Vignes du Cendre, two adjacent sites in the southwestern parts of Urville, just east of the forest-clad hill which is located on the border to Bligny. The name cendre (=ash) is because the vineyard was covered with ash after a big fire in Urville in 1836. The prestige cuvée from Drappier, Grande Sendrée, originates from here, and takes its name from a corruption of the spelling from cendre to sendre when the property map was copied some time later.

Champagne producers

Champagne house/négociant

The producer status NM = négociant-manipulant means that purchased grapes can be included in the Champagnes. NM producers can be anything from small producers that supplement their own grapes with some that they buy in, to large Champagne houses that primarily rely on purchased grapes.

  • Drappier (NM), a good medium-sized Champagne house with 55 ha of their own vineyards and another 50 ha under contract. The vineyards are to a large extent located around Urville, but also to some extent in the Montagne de Reims and the Côte des Blancs. The proportion of Pinot Noir is 70%. Other than the main facility in Urville, Drappier also has cellars in Reims, mostly because those are deeper and cooler. The vintage and prestige Champagnes are stored there. The style of Drappier is Pinot Noir-dominated and basically rather fruity, but typical for them are some more odd cuvées and an experimental orientation. Their regular non-vintage Champagne is called Carte d’Or and is composed of 75% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay, and 10% Pinot Meunier. One of the specialities of Drappiers specialiteter is Carte d’Or in large format bottles, up to 27 liters (Primat, a format they are alone to have) and 30 liters (Melchisédech). Also for the largest formats, the second fermentation takes place in the bottle they are sold in. This is only mandatory up to 3 liters (Jéroboam), and many producers use the transvasage method for the largest format. Brut Nature is a 100% Pinot Noir completely without dosage and with a low addition of sulfur. Because the base is Pinot Noir from the south, this Champagne comes across as less bone dry than some other zero dosage Champagnes tend to do. Brut Nature Sans Soufre is a special version of the same Champagne completely without the addition of sulfur, i.e., a “natural wine”, and differs by the text “sans ajout de soufre” written diagonally across the label and the presence of a disgorgement date. Millésime Exception is the regular vintage Champagne from Drappier, and is composed of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay (refers to the 2012 vintage). This cuvée used to be called (includes the vintages of the 1990s) Carte d’Or. Charles de Gaulle is a vintage Champagne with a higher proportion of Pinot Noir, 80%, as well as 20% Chardonnay. Grande Sendrée is the prestige Champagne, and is composed of 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay (refers to the 2008 vintage) from the site Le Cendre (or possibly the neighbouring site Les Vignes du Cendre). This cuvée is partly vinified in large oak vats. Grande Sendrée Rosé differs by being a maceration rosé and is composed of 92% Pinot Noir and 8% Chardonnay (refers to the 2008 vintage). Quattuor is a non-vintage cuvée composed of four green grape varieties (of which three are unusual), 25% each: Arbanne, Petit Meslier, Blanc Vrai (= Pinot Blanc), and Chardonnay. The bottles can be recognised by the Roman numeral IV on the glass, and the label specifies it a “blanc de quatre blancs”. Drappier also sells recently disgorged bottles of older vintages, primarily of the regular vintage Champagne. On these bottles, disgorgement month on the label. The style of Drappier with a high proportion of southern Pinot Noir, and possibly their habits of keeping the sulfur addition low, means that these Champagnes usually show clearly developed notes, often with some Sherry notes.
    History
    The Drappier family counts their history in Urville back to 1808, when a Francois Urville moved to the village and started to grow vines. In the 1930s, Georges Collot, who then led the house, was the first in the Bar-sur-Aube canton to plant Pinot Noir. This gave him the nickname Père Pinot. Drappier’s Carte d’Or was introduced in 1952, with the yellow label it still has. After the disastrous 1957 vintage, when spring frost destroyed 95% of the harvest, André Drappier introduced Pinot Meunier in the vineyards, since this grape variety is more resistance to frost. In 1965, Charles de Gaulle became fond in a Drappier Champagne, a 100% Pinot Noir, and became a customer of the house. At this time, de Gaulle lived in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, about 20 km away. In 1988, a cellar in Reims was bought to supplement the one in Urville.

    Blog post (2013) about a visit to Drappier.
Drappier 20130703 gatuvy

Drappier’s facilities in Urville. Picture from 2013.

Champagne growers

Producer status is indicated where known: RM = récoltant-manipulant, or grower-producers. RC = récoltant-coopérateur, growers that are cooperative members but sell Champagnes under their own name.

  • Daniel Billette (RM), has 10 ha of vineyards and an annual production of 70 000 bottles.
  • Collot-Beauvalet, has just over 8 ha of vineyards.
  • Guy Devitry (RC)
  • Olivier Devitry (RC)
  • Philippe Devitry
  • Hubert Favier (RC), has 8 ha of vineyards. The range includes a vintage Champagne. Indicates on their website that they are RM, but the bottles I’ve seen are labelled RC, so a change in status could be on its way.
  • Pierre de Frétiveau (RC), has 6 ha of vineyards with 75% Pinot Noir, 13% Chardonnay, and 12% Pinot Meunier. The range includes a vintage Champagne composed of all three grape varieties. The company name is Richard Pierre.
  • Labbé (RC), has about 12 ha of vineyards. The range includes a vintage Champagne composed of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Has a small wine museum. Not to be confused with Labbé in Thil or Labbé & Fils in Chamery.
  • Daniel Perrin (RM), whose range includes a vintage Champagne.

Comment: the list may be incomplete.

Cooperative

When bottles are sold directly by a cooperative the producer status is given as CM = coopérative de manipulation, as opposed to RC when sold by a cooperative member under their own name.

  • Coopérative Vinicole d’Urville is a cooperative in Urville founded in 1950, which got its own first building in 1957.

Links

© Tomas Eriksson 2016, last update 2016-08-27

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Champagne village profile: Bligny in the Bar-sur-Aubois

Diagram Bligny (Aube) 201608Key facts

Located in subregion/area: Côte des Bar / Bar-sur-Aubois
Vineyards and grape varieties: 155.0 hectares (383.0 acres), of which 82% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay, 2.6% Pinot Meunier, and 0.6% others.
Classification: ”Autre cru” (80%)
Risk of confusion: other than this village, in the Aube departement, there is a Champagne village named Bligny in the Vesle et Ardre area, on top of the Montagne de Reims, in the Marne departement. Bligny in Aube, this village, is with a wide margin the largest of the two in terms of vineyard area.

Maps

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

Google Maps view with the villages in the Bar-sur-Aubois highlighted.

Clicking on a village opens a field to the left with a link to the village profile, if it exists.

Neighbouring villages within the Champagne appellation

North: Meurville
Northeast: Bergères
East: Urville
Southeast: Champignol-lez-Mondeville
Southwest: Vitry-le-Croisé (located in the Barséquanais)

The village

The church in Bligny, Église Saint-Symphorien. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Gérard Janot, 2009).

Bligny is located at Le Landion, a river that empties into the Aube river at Dolancourt.

The Bligny commune covers 2274 hectares and has 185 inhabitants (as of 2013) referred to as Ebraugnais and Ebraugnaises.

Château de Bligny is located in the village, at the entry from the northwest. The current château was built in 1773 by Marquis de Dampierre on the ruins of a medieval castle. It is today owned by the Rapeneau family, also the owner of the Champagne houses G.H. Martel and de Cazanove. It is opened for guided visits since 1999.

Vineyards

The vineyards in Bligny can be found in several parts of the commune. Two blocks are located just north of the village and consists of south- and southeast-facing slopes. Other vineyards are found in the southwestern part of the village as well as in the southeastern part, where they are located around the same hill as those in southwestern Champignol-lez-Mondeville. Pinot Noir dominates greatly.

The current vineyard surface in the Bligny commune is 155.0 hectares (383.0 acres). There are 127.0 ha Pinot Noir (81.9%), 23.0 ha Chardonnay (14.8%), 4.0 ha Pinot Meunier (2.6%), and 1.0 ha others (0.6%), which is likely to include Pinot Blanc. Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 139 ha. There are 28 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Single vineyard sites

Single vineyard sites in Bligny include the following, among others:

  • Beauregard is a mild southeast-facing slope in the southwestern part of the commune.
  • Bernardin is a mild east-facing slope in the southwestern part of the comune. Château de Bligny has a holding here.
  • Clos du Château de Bligny is a wall-enclosed vineyard site of 0.80 ha (2.0 acres) in direct connection to the château garden, on the northern side. The site is located within the lieu-dit Entre les Garennes, which also includes the château, i.e., the close name is not found in the property register. Château de Bligny produces a vineyard-designated cuvée of six grape varieties (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Petit Meslier, Arbane och Pinot Blanc) from this site.
  • Val l’Ermite is a southeast-facing site in the southern part of the commune, on the border to Champignol-lez-Mondeville. Château de Bligny has a holding here.

Champagne producers

Champagne house/négociant

The producer status NM = négociant-manipulant means that purchased grapes can be included in the Champagnes. NM producers can be anything from small producers that supplement their own grapes with some that they buy in, to large Champagne houses that primarily rely on purchased grapes.

  • Demilly de Baere (NM). Cuvée Rare is a non-vintage cuvée of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc from old vines. The top Champagne of the range, Cuvée Pure, is a cuvée of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that exists both as a vintage Champagne (e.g. 2005) and non-vintage. Also sells Champagnes under the brand:
    • Madame de Sainte Maure

Champagne growers

Producer status is indicated where known: RM = récoltant-manipulant, or grower-producers. RC = récoltant-coopérateur, growers that are cooperative members but sell Champagnes under their own name.

  • Thierry Binon (RM)
  • Château de Bligny (RM), which is found in the building of the same name and which has just over 20 ha of vineyards. The owner is the Rapeneau family, also the owners of the Champagne houses G.H. Martel and de Cazanove, but Château de Bligny is run separately. The range includes a Blanc de Blancs Millésime which is a 100% Chardonnay. At least earlier there has been a vintage Champagne named Cœur de Cuvée which was composed of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir (refers to the 1996 vintage). Clos du Château de Bligny Cuvée 6 Cépages is composed of 1/6 each of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Petit Meslier, Arbane, and Pinot Blanc from the vineyard of this name, from 0.80 ha (2.0 acres) they produce about 7000 bottles.
    History
    The wine production of Château de Bligny was started in the early 19th century by the Baron de Cachard, who also bought the vineyards which had belonged to the Prieuré de Sainte Eulalie in the village. In 1930, the vineyard holdings was 44 ha. After World War II, the property was bought by M. Lefèvre of Tours, who wished to supplement his production of sparkling Loire wines with his own Champagne. This was not a successful move, and the property was divided up and sold in several lots. In 1952, the Lorin family bought several of the vineyard plots and initiated replantation in 1954. The château and property was bought by the Rapeneau family in 1999, and opened for visits after this.

    Below a video showing the château and surrounding vineyards, as well as markets one of the Champagnes of this producer.

  • Gauthrin-Ferron, whose range includes a vintage Champagne. The company name is Gauthrin-Laurent. There are also rather new bottles produced by Nicolo in Arsonval with the producer code ND (négociant-disitributeur).
  • Y. Laval (RM), a member of Vignerons Indépendants with 12 ha of continuous vineyards with 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay.
  • Michel Lorin (RC)
  • Moutaux (RM, Facebook page), a member of Vignerons Indépendants and Terra Vitis (since 2010). Has 12.5 ha of vineyards in Bligny, Urville, and Meurville, with 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. The top Champagne is called Cuvée Val de Beauregard and is composed of half each of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Comment: the list may be incomplete.

Links

© Tomas Eriksson 2016, last update 2016-08-28

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Will there be a Champagne shortage following the 2016 harvest?

If we would have a situation where there is shortage of Champagne, there would always be a possibility to preserve the precious drop of this heavenly nectar by refraining to put them to this use, or to at least use cheaper or more indifferent plonk for this purpose. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Eric Castro, 2007).

Last week, Decanter published an article under the title Champagne shortage looms after frost, rot and mildew. This refers to the not yet harvested 2016 vintage in the Champagne wine. I’ve noted that this has led to notices and articles in several other news outlets based in several countries, including some that have over- or misinterpreted what Decanter actually said. There seems to some journalists who always wants to fins a crisis/disaster/end of the world angle to a story. Let’s just say that as yet, there isn’t much reason to worry if you’re just a regular consumer or lover of Champagne, be it a big or small one, rather than a vineyard owner in the southern part of the Champagne wine region.

What did Decanter say has happened?

Several problems have plagued the vineyards in Champagne this year, in particular those in the Côte des Bar, the southernmost part of Champagne. Similar problems have struck other French wine regions as well, including nearby Chablis and other parts of the Burgundy wine region, as previously reported by Decanter. At current, about one-third of the hoped-for harvest volume in Champagne seems to be lost, at the level of the region as a whole.

Côte des Bar, the subregion of Champagne that has been particularly hard hit, is composed of the two areas Bar-sur-Aubois and Barséquanais. Here we find 7 778 hectares (19 220 acres) of a total of 34 447 hectares of vineyards in Champagne, or 22.6%. Pinot Noir makes up 86% of the vineyards in the Côte des Bar. The first to hit Côte des Bar this year was a lat spring frost. This is a frequent problem in many colder wine regions, and it causes some buds of the vines to die which then leads to parts of that year’s harvest being lost before any grapes have appeared on the vines. Decanter cites an example, Fleury (a house with only biodynamical Champagnes located in Courteron, a village in the Côte des Bar) lost 70% of its potential harvest in this way.

Later, hail struck Aube, the department where Côte des Bar is located. Hail doesn’t just destroy the grapes, but also tends to increase the risk of rot since many bunches will have some broken grapes sitting of them. Grey rot is a problem in Champagne this year. Grey rot is a “bad case” of the same fungus (Botrytis cinerea) that produces the desirable noble rot in many wine regions producing sweet wines. It is mentioned that 65% of the vineyards show smaller amounts of grey rot. As far as I undertand, this does not bode well for the quality of the vintage, because wines don’t tend to be particularly good if large amounts of grapes affected by grey rot are brought along at the time of pressing. Also, since grey rot is often a phenomenon that occur closer to harvest time (if there is excess moisture), it is a bit worrying that it is so widespread already.

This year, the entire Champagne wine region also has problems with mildew, which is an infection by fungi or oomycete on e.g. leaves or grapes, common in many wine region. The “Master” organisation says that 99% of the vineyards inspected showed symptoms of mildew. The effects of mildew on grapes or harvest, Master says that 34% of the vineyards had lost at least 10% of their harvest due to this, and that 4% had lost at least 50% of their harvest.

What does this mean in total? “Official estimates” apparently stand at 7200 kg/hectare, compared to the 10800 kg/hectare decided by the Champagne organisation CIVC in July as “mark” for this year. (This was actually 9700 kg/ha from this year’s harvest + 1100 kg/ha released from the reserves. On average, producers can be expected to put the same amount into their reserves as the take out, but an individual year they can put in more, so it would be possible for some to harvest more than 10800 kg/ha this year, if conditions allowed. I allow myself a bit of simplification here.) Unless there are no additional surprises, this year’s harvest will be 33% than wished for.

In the frost- and hail-hit Côte des Bar, the situation is much worse than the average of the region. Olivier Horiot (an excellent small producer in Les Riceys in the Côte des Bar) estimates that the harvest in this part of Champagne will be 2500-3000 kg/ha, i.e., only a fourth of what the producers there would have wished to harvest. The “heartland” of Champagne in the Marne departement has so far been less affected, though, and Philipponnat (a medium-sized Champagne house in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, part of the Lanson-BCC group) estimates the harvest in this departement to be 8000-8500 kg/ha.

Decanter also quotes Eric Rodez (a good biodynamical producer in Ambonnay), who claims that this is the most difficult growing season since 1956. It is possible that 1956 was particularly difficult in the area of Ambonnay, because Pinot Noir apparently faired worse than Chardonnay that year, but in total the harvest was 4600 kg/ha, at a time when the typical yields (harvest per hectare) were lower than today. According to statistics of Champagne as a whole, it was 1957 that gave the lowest yields in the post-WWII era, 2600 kg/ha, due to large frost problems. However, it is not necessary to go back that far to find vintages with a smaller yield than the number estimated for 2016, in several cases in combination with questionable quality. I would like to mention 1971 (5100 kg/ha), 1978 (3678 kg/ha), 1980 (5289 kg/ha), and 1981 (4353 kg/ha).

The Decanter article only talks about problems in the vineyards, before the harvest has started, and doesn’t say anything about a Champagne shortage other than in the heading. Philipponnat simply observes that the producers will have to dig deep into their reserves due to the harvest being smaller.

Consequences of a bad harvest in 2016

Many non-sparkling white wines from the 2016 harvest start to be available for purchase already in the spring of 2017, unless they see some time in oak. (Or half a year earlier if they are from the southern hemisphere.) Champagne and other bottle fermented sparkling wines are sold later, since they spend time on the lees in their bottles, following the second fermentation. This second fermentation produces the bubbles and it is the time on the lees, i.e. in contact with the yeast deposit, that results in the typical “bready/biscuity” Champagne aromas.

For non-vintage Champagnes, the minimum time on the lees is 15 months, and for vintage Champagnes it is three years. Most Champagne produces cellar their bottles longer than the minimum time. A typical time for regular non-vintage Champagnes from many of the more well-known houses is 2.5 to 3 years on the lees. This means that bottles primarily based on the 2016 harvest can be expected to be shipped from major Champagne houses starting in the second half of 2019.

This is what the schedule for non-vintage Champagnes from the 2016 harvest looks, in more detail:

  • Grape harvest: typically September 2016
  • Following the harvest: production of base wines (vins clair), by fermenting the grapes
  • Blending (assemblage) of the batch to the filled into bottles in 2017, which means base wines from the 2016 harvest and reserve wines from earlier vintages: January-February 2017
  • The blend is bottled and a suitable amount of yeast + sugar is added at the same time to start the second fermentation.
  • The earliest time when the yeast deposit can be removed from these bottles by disgorgement (dégorgement), and the bottle could be supplied with its cork, is after 15 months: April-May 2018
  • A more typical time is after 2.5-3 years: July 2019-February 2020
  • Shipping of the bottles from the Champagne producers are typically preceded by a couple of months of storage on the cork, following disgorgement: autumn 2019-summer 2020.

If the Champagne houses would just carry on as usual following a bad harvest, a hypothetical Champagne shortage due to a problematic 2016 harvest would “hit the market” in the fall of 2019 at the earliest.

A small portion of the total stores in Champagne, which has e.g. the role to even out supplies when producers experience bad vintages. In this section of the cellar of Pol Roger in Épernay there were 193 200 bottles when I visited them in 2010. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons.

Compensation through reserve wines and future harvests

However, when there is a bad vintage, things don’t just proceed as usual. Champagne houses have large amounts of reserve wines stored in order to “even things out” between vintages. When things run smooth, the role of the reserve wines is mostly described as being there to ensure a consistent house style between years. In more blunt terms, this means that the reserve wines are used to compensate for variations in style and quality between harvests. The producers accept additional costs for storage of wine (including a capital cost for the necessary extra inventory) in order to improve the batches based on the weakest vintages.

Both the reserve wines and the inventory of not yet disgorged bottles also exist to even out the quantities produced. From the late 1980s, harvests have varied less in quantities than they did in previous decades, but established principles of production originate from the era when variations were larger.

What will happen after a smaller 2016 harvest is that the yields allowed for 2017, and perhaps also those for 2018, will be set higher by CIVC, by a combination of vintage-specific decisions and existing regulations for producer’s reserves. The system of regulated yields, and this regulated harvest sizes, exists to create a reasonable balance between grape supply and demand. It is a more extensive form of market intervention than typically found in other wine regions, and I suppose that this is justified as a compensation for the mandatory cellaring time, which is something not found in all wine regions. When there have been no major problems in the vineyards, the allowed yields are primarily adjusted to be in sync with the estimated demand a few years ahead. Since the purpose is to achieve balance between supply and demand, earlier bad harvests also enter the calculation.

The 2017 harvest will therefore allow Champagne producers to restock the stock of reserve wines which they will have to dig into following this year’s harvest. Provided that 2017 will turn out to be a more-or-less regular harvest, the smaller 2016 harvest will only be noticed as a temporary variation in the size of the reserves, including the size of the stock of bottles.

To put things into perspective, 7200 kg/ha instead of 10800 kg/ha means that grapes corresponding to about 211 million bottles of Champagne are expected to be harvested in 2016, instead of grapes corresponding to about 316 million bottles, i.e., a loss of 105 million bottles. Sales in 2015 were 312.5 million bottles, so we can make a guess what led CIVC to settle for 10800 kg/ha. Total stocks in Champagne stood at 1428 million bottles as of 31 July 2015, including reserve wines in tanks expressed as the equivalent number of bottles, and not yet released reserves. This means that stocks correspond to just over 4.5 years of sales. Admittedly, this includes bottles still to young to be sold, and reserve wines needed for the blending with future harvest, so stocks could never be brought down to zero without a supply interruption being the result. However, it is worth noting that the expected losses in the 2016 harvest only corresponds to 7% of stocks, and that possibility to compensate exists.

Unless 2017 also turn out really bad, there will not be any significant effect on the availability of Champagnes from major houses. Not even two bad vintages in a row, with 1/3 less harvest than wished for in each of them, is likely to lead to a wide-spread disaster or a noticeable shortage. So if you absolutely have to lie sleepless worrying about something, the upcoming Champagne shortage should not be it. At least not yet.

In terms of quality, it is admittedly not ideal to increase yields too far. However, there is no reason to overestimate problems associated with increasing the allowed yield by 10-20% above the figure set for 2016. Looking back in history, several very good vintages have had yields significantly above 10000 kg/ha, including 1989, 1990, and 1998.

Compensation through pricing

If there should be two or more bad vintages in a row, rather than just one, so that stocks do start to go down, this will not primarily make itself felt by empty Champagne shelves in wine shops. Instead, prices will be slightly increased to bring supply and demand into balance.

It is not possible to judge if this will be necessary by just looking at the supply side. The development of the demand also needs to be taken into account, and this is rather sensitive to the booms and busts of the business cycle, more so than most other wines, as well as sensitive to trends. Therefore, there is a lot of uncertainty about the Champagne demand in 2019-2020.

A hypothetical price increase due to insufficient supply, is likely to be felt primarily through an increase of the average price at the point of shipping from Champagne. This could mean that the availability of the cheapest “discount” Champagnes and other cheap buyers’ own brands goes down, as this market to some extent is dependent on some producers’ surplus bottles.

Worse consequences for small producers in the Côte des Bar

The description above is written primarily the perspective of us consumers, and among the  Champagne producers primarily those major Champagne houses that buy in grapes from the entire region. To an individual grower in the Côte des Bar, the consequences are naturally much greater. The average vigneron of that subregion is expected to end up with a harvest about 75% smaller than aimed for, and will lose the corresponding income, either over the coming year if the grapes are sold, or spread over a couple of following years if they sell their own Champagnes. If the average is 75% less, there will likely also be those that have been hit even harder, and more-or-less don’t harvest any grapes this year.

Some high-end small producers will also find it difficult to compensate by harvesting more in coming years, although major houses and other producers that go for a “standard style” have that possibility, within reason. This is because the style of some modern small producers is built on lower yields compared to the average or allowed yields, and they are unlikely to want to change away from the style they like and which has given them a good reputation. In the Côte des Bar, there is a number of such small producers that have come to fame in more recent years. Some of those are Cédric Bouchard/Roses de Jeanne in Celles-sur-Ource, Marie-Courtin in Polisot, the aforementioned Olivier Horiot in Les Riceys, and Vouette & Sorbé in Buxières-sur-Arce.

Good news from other recent harvests

As it happens, Champagne enthusiasts don’t just have potential problems to look forward to over the coming years, but also a lot of good news in terms of good to excellent bottles already “in the pipeline”. The 2012 and 2013 vintages are quite good, and the 2015 vintage is at least very good, and possibly excellent. (I know less of 2014.) So no matter how bad the 2016 harvest will turn out, there will be a steady stream of very good vintage Champagnes to look forward to.

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Champagne village profile: Champignol-lez-Mondeville in the Bar-sur-Aubois

Diagram Champignol-lez-Mondeville 201607Key facts

Located in subregion/area: Côte des Bar / Bar-sur-Aubois
Vineyards and grape varieties: 142.4 hectares (351.9 acres), of which 91% Pinot Noir, 7.5% Chardonnay, 1.1% Pinot Meunier, and 0.4% others.
Classification: ”Autre cru” (80%)

Maps

The map is linked from Wikimedia Commons, and the geographical information originates from OpenStreetMap. The dotted white area corresponds to the vineyards, light yellow is other open terrain, orange is built-up areas, and green indicates forest. The dashed red line is the departemental border between Aube (where Champignol-lez-Mondeville is located) and Haute-Marne (where Laferte-sur-Aube and Villars-en-Azois are located).

Google Maps view with the villages in the Bar-sur-Aubois highlighted.

Clicking on a village opens a field to the left with a link to the village profile, if it exists.

Neighbouring villages within the Champagne appellation

North: Urville
Northeast: Arconville
Southwest: Saint-Usage (located in the Barséquanais)
Westnorthwest: Vitry-le-Croisé (located in the Barséquanais)
Northwest: Bligny
Comment: the remaining links will be added when the profiles of those villages have been posted.

Panorama view of Champignol-lez-Mondeville, as seen from the south. The vineyards in the background is located in the northern part of the commune. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Pascal Lux, 2010).

The village

Champignol-lez-Mondeville is located at a small river, Le Landion, which has its source in the commune and which empties in the Aube river at Dolancourt.

The Champignol-lez-Mondeville commune covers 4417 hectares and has 323 inhabitants (as of 2013), referred to as Champignolais and Champignolaises.

The church in Champignol-lez-Mondeville, Église Saint-Laurent. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Gérard Janot, 2009).

Vineyards

The vineyards in Champignol-lez-Mondeville are located in the northern part of the commune and mostly consist of south- and west-facing slopes. Pinot Noir dominates greatly.

The current vineyard area in the Champignol-lez-Mondeville commune is 142.4 hectares (351.9 acres). There are 129.6 ha Pinot Noir (91.0%), 10.7 ha Chardonnay (7.5%), 1.6 ha Pinot Meunier (1.1%), and 0.5 ha others (0.4%), which is likely to include Pinot Blanc. Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 117 ha. There are 31 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Single vineyard sites

Single vineyard sites in Champignol-lez-Mondeville include the following, among others:

  • Le Côte Châtelain is a southwest-facing site to the west of the village, and is located the furthest west among the vineyard sites of this village.
  • La Côte au Roi is a site north of the village itself. R. Dumont & Fils has a plot of Pinot Noir in this site.
  • La Curée is a south-facing site northeast of the village. To the east, the site borders to La Voie Bertrand. Binon-Coquard in Spoy has a plot here.
  • En Ville is a south-facing site northeast of the village. To the north and west, this site borders to (La) Voie de Chanay. R. Dumont & Fils has a plot of Chardonnay in this site.
  • Landomont is a southeast-facing site in the northern part of the commune, on the border to the Urville commune, close to the D70 and D44 roads. R. Dumont & Fils has a plot of Chardonnay in this site.
  • La Voie Bertrand is a south-facing site northeast of the village. To the south and east, this site borders to (La) Voie de Chanay, and to the west it borders to La Curée. R. Dumont & Fils has a plot of Chardonnay in this site.
  • (La) Voie de Chanay is a south-facing site to the northeast of the village. This site borders in the northwest to La Voie Bernard and in the southeast to En Ville. On the cadastre map, the southwestern part of the site is written without the “La” part and the adjacent northeastern part with a “La”. R. Dumont & Fils has a plot of Chardonnay in this site.

Champagne producers

Champagne growers

Producer status is indicated where known: RM = récoltant-manipulant, or grower-producers. RC = récoltant-coopérateur, growers that are cooperative members but sell Champagnes under their own name.

  • R. Dumont & Fils (RM), a member of Terra Vitis with 23 ha of vineyards, about 20 ha Pinot Noir, 3 ha Chardonnay, and 0.15 ha Pinot Blanc, all in Champignol-lez-Mondeville. The range includes a regular vintage Champagne composed of 2/3 Pinot Noir and 1/3 Chardonnay (refers to the 2006 vintage, PN from the sites (La Côte?) Châtelain and La Côte au Roi, Ch from the sites La Voie Bertrand, La Voie de Chanay, and Landomont) and Blanc de Noirs, a vintage Champagne produced using old vine Pinot Noir. Intense is a cuvée composed of 65% Pinot Noir (from the sites En Ville and La Côte au Roi) and 35% Chardonnay (from the site La Voie Bertrand) which is vinified in oak barrels produced using oak from Champignol-lez-Mondeville. The range includes a still red wine (a Coteaux Champenois) called La Voie de Chanay, produced using old vine Pinot Noir from the site of that name.
  • Pascal Fricot (RM), whose top Champagne is called Réserve des Damoiselles Fricot and is composed of about half Pinot Noir and half Chardonnay.
  • Jeandon-Privé (RC)
  • Schmit-Belin
  • Taprest-Poissenot & Fils

Comment: the list may be incomplete.

Troops in Champignol-lez-Mondeville in June 1911 in connection with the Champagne riots. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons.

Links

© Tomas Eriksson 2016, last update 2016-08-26

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