Champagne village profile: Hautvillers in the Grande Vallée de la Marne – home village of Dom Pérignon

Diagram Hautvillers 201503Key facts

Located in: Vallée de la Marne: Grande Vallée de la Marne
Classification: Premier cru (93%)
Vineyards and grape varieties: 284.1 hectares (702.0 acres), of which 45% Pinot Noir, 33% Pinot Meunier, and 22% Chardonnay.
Noted for: Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier from south-facing slopes, the Benedictine abbey Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers where the monk Dom Pierre Pérignon worked as winemaker.

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

On the right bank of the Marne river
Southwest: Cumières (premier cru)
Northwest: Romery, which is part of Vallée de la Marne Rive Droite
Northwest: Cormoyeux, which is part of Vallée de la Marne Rive Droite
East: Champillon (premier cru)
Southeast: Dizy (premier cru)

On the right bank of the Marne river
Southsouthwest: Mardeuil, which is part of Vallée de la Marne Rive Gauche
Southsoutheast: Épernay

View over Hautvillers from a point between Dizy and Champillon. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo by October Ends, 2012).

The village

Hautvillers is most known for its abbey, where the monk Dom Pierre Pérignon was active, and many visitors to the region pass through here. The village calls itself le Berceau du Champagne, “the cradle of Champagnes”.

The Hautvillers commune covers 1177 hectares and counts 768 inhabitants (as of 2011) called altavillois and altavilloises respectively. This is derived form the old Latin name of the village, Alta Villare.

The abbey buildings. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo by October Ends, 2011).

The abbey

The Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers Abbey is located at the southwestern edge of the village. It was founded in the year 650 by Saint Nivard, archbishop of Reims. The abbey had a relic of Saint Helena, nicked in Rom in the year 841 by a priest from Reims. This meant visits by pilgrims and income that made the abbey able to buy vineyard land. The abbey buildings have been destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout the history of its existence.

Similar to other abbeys and other church property in France, the French Revolution of 1789 meant an end to its activities, and the property was confiscated by the state. The (former) abbey buildings are today owned by Moët & Chandon.

Dom Pierre Pérignon

Statue of Dom Pérignon outside Moët & Chandon in Épernay. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo by Michal Osmenda, 2012).

The Benedictine monk Pierre Pérignon (1638/9-1715) was active at the abbey from 1668 and is buried in Hautvillers. I’ll devote a separate blog post to him, but let’s take the most important: he did not invent sparkling wine, and he did not produce sparkling Champagne. Rather, he tried to avoid the risk of refermentation in his still Champagne wines. What he did do was to significantly improve the quality of the wines produced by the Hautvillers abbey, and this made him a highly respected winemaker in his lifetime. The wines produced under his supervision were much sought after and commanded noticeably higher prices than other high-quality wines from the region. He therefore became a pioneer in improving the quality, and others followed in his footsteps. The standard style of the wines from Champagne at this time were still wines. During the 18th century, more sparkling wine was produced, but the still wines still dominated. Only in the early 19th century had sparkling Champagne almost completely out-competed the former still Champagne wines.

A longer post about Pierre Pérignon and his work can be found here.

Vineyards

Vineyards consists of predominantly south-facing slopes, mostly with mixed Pinots.

The current vineyard surface in the commune is 284.1 ha (702.0 acres). There are 127.5 ha Pinot Noir (44.9%), 93.3 ha Pinot Meunier (32.8%), 62.9 ha Chardonnay (22.2%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 280 ha. There are 140 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Champagne houses that use vineyards in this village include Moët & Chandon, Roederer, and Taittinger.

Earlier, at least until the early 1990s vintages, the small brochure that accompanies gift boxes of Dom Pérignon, specified from which villages the grapes to the cuvée came. It used to be mostly a number of grand cru villages and Hautvillers, to provide a connection to the place where Dom Pérignon himself was active.

Single vineyard sites

  • Les Hautes-PrièresR.C. Lemaire in Villers-sous-Châtillon produces a vineyard-designated and oaked vintage blanc de blancs, Millésime Les Hautes-Prières, from this site.

Champagne producers

Champagne houses/négociants

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. 

  • J.M. Gobillard & Fils (NM), has its main seat in Hautvillers but also facilities in Dizy. The company was founded in 1933 by Gervais Gobillard, and the initials comes from his son Jean-Marie Gobillard. The company behind is called SAS l’Altavilloise. They have 30 ha of their own vineyards and grape contracts for a further 125 ha, and a production of about 1.5 million bottles. Their prestige cuvée is called Privilège des Moines and consists of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. The Champagnes are also sold under the brands:
    • Baron de Marck
    • Comte Decrion
  • G. Tribaut (NM), has 12 ha of vineyards.
  • Trouillard (NM), has its facilities in Dizy but size 2006 also an address in Hautvillers.

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.

  • Adam-Revolte
  • Clément Bliard (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants
  • Dominique Bliard-Labeste (RC), has a Facebook page
  • Vincent Bliard (RM), practices organic farming since 1970 and uses oak for their Champagnes.
  • Jean-Philippe Bosser (RM), also known as J P Bosser.
  • Boyer-Martin
  • Régis Brulon
  • Dagonet & Fils, has a bit more than 3 ha of vineyards. Not to be confused with Lucien Dagonet & Fils/L. Dagonet & Fils in Boursault.
  • Joseph Desruets (RM), also called J. Desrutes and Joseph Desruets Frères, member of Vignerons Indépendants.
  • André Descontes
  • Pierre Fedyk (RC), also rents out rooms under the name La Chevalée.
  • Fernand Lemaire (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants, has 7 ha of vineyards.
  • Jean Pierre Gauvain (RC), also known as J.-Pierre Gauvain.
  • Pierre Gobillard (RM), has 8 ha of vineyards and are said to produce 150 000 bottles annually (which seems a bit too much for 8 ha and RM status).
  • Serge Landragin (RC)
  • Lesure-Thiorain (either RC or bought-in)
  • Locret-Lachaud (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants
  • Lopez-Martin (RC), has 10 ha of vineyards (4 ha Pinot Noir, 4 ha Pinot Meunier, 2 ha Chardonnay), of which 0.27 ha Pinot Noir in Cumières and the rest in Hautvillers.
  • Marion-Bosser (RC)
  • Louis Nicaise (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants
  • Jean-Pierre Patigny (RM, seems to have been RC earlier)
  • Pierrot-Le Labourer (RC)
  • B. Thoirain-Adnet et Fils, has a Facebook page
  • Laurent Thoirain-Adnet
  • G. Sauvignier (RC), has a Facebook page

Comment: The list is probably not complete.

Cooperatives

  • Coopérative Vinicole (à Hautvillers) – doesn’t seem to have a website.
  • Coopérative Les Vignerons d’Hautvillers – a cooperative founded in 1931, has 168 members with 73.82 ha of vineyards. Their own brand used to be Le Berceau du Champagne, which also is the nickname of Hautviller, but their current brand is:

Links

Video clip

Stylish video from Dom Pérignon (i.e., from Moët & Chandon) showing the Hautvillers Abbey.

© Tomas Eriksson 2014-2015, last update 2015-07-20

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