Champagne village profile: Tours-sur-Marne in the Grande Montagne de Reims, one of the grand cru villages

Diagram Tours-sur-Marne 201504Key facts

Located in: Montagne & Val de Reims: Grande Montagne de Reims
Vineyards and grape varieties: 52.5 hectares (129.7 acres), of which 72% Pinot Noir and 28% Chardonnay.
Classification: Grand cru (100%), used to be a grand cru for red grapes only and a premier cru (90%) for white grapes.
Noted for: Pinot Noir from grand cru vineyards.

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 indicates other open terrain, and green indicates forest.


Google Maps view with the villages in the Grande Montagne de Reims highlighted. The grand cru villages including Tours-sur-Marne are shown in green, the premier cru villages are in yellow, and the autre cru villages in orange. The light green box indicates the Perle blanche area.

Clicking on a village opens a field to the left with a link to the village profile.

Neighbouring villages

West: Bisseuil (premier cru), which belongs to the Grande Vallé de la Marne
Northnorthwest: Tauxières-Mutry (premier cru)
Northnortheast: Bouzy (grand cru)
Northeast: Ambonnay (grand cru)

Comment: several of the neighbouring villages of Tours-sur-Marnes to the east to south – from Condé-sur-Marne to Plivot – are not Champagne villages (i.e., are located outside of the borders of the appellation), and therefore don’t have any village profiles.

View from a lock in the Marne canal in Tours-sur-Marne, with the church in the background. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo October Ends, 2012).

The village

As the name indicates, the Tours-sur-Marne village is located down by the Marne river and the Marne canal, which is below/south of the Montagne de Reims hill.

In the northeastern part of the commune, close to the border to Bouzy, there is a small industrial zone called Côte des Noirs.

The Tours-sur-Marne commune covers 2351 hectares and counts 1376 inhabitants (as of 2013), referred to as Tours-sur-Marnais and Tours-sur-Marnaises.

Agricultural landscape in Tours-sur-Marne. Down on the flat land closest to the village and the Marne canal regular crops are grown. The vineyards are closer to the Montagne de Reims, the forest-clad hill in the background. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo October Ends, 2012).

Vineyards

The vineyards in Tours-sur-Marne consist of south-facing slopes in the northern outskirts of the commune, and they border to the more extensive vineyards in Tauxières-Mutry and Bouzy.

The current vineyard surface in the commune is 52.5 hectares (129.7 acres). There are 37.6 ha Pinot Noir (71.6%) and 14.9 ha Chardonnay (28.4%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 53 ha. There are 51 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Champagne houses that use vineyards in this village include Moët & Chandon.

Grande Montagne de Reims or Grande Vallée de la Marne?

Baserad on the location of the village itself directly at the Marne river with its canal, it may seem a little strange that this commune is counted as part of the Grande Montagne de Reims rather than the Grande Vallée de la Marne, which is the case for Bisseuil and the following communes downstream (i.e., to the west). The explanation is that the vineyards in the commune are located further from the Marne than those of Bisseuil, and that they are an extension of those in Tauxières-Mutry and Bouzy, which are clearly located up on the slopes of the Montagne de Reims hill rather than down by the Marne. But of course, the choice of exactly were to draw the line between Grande Vallée de la Marne and the southern part of Grande Montagne de Reims is somewhat arbitrary. In this case, I use the division into areas made by the Unions des Maisons de Champagne (UMC).

Formerly a grand cru for red grapes only

On the no longer existing échelle des crus scale, where 100% = grand cru and 90-99% = premier cru, there was a smaller number of villages which had different ratings for white and red grapes, i.e. for Chardonnay on one hand and for Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier on the other. Tours-sur-Marne was one of those, with 100% for red grapes and 90% for white grapes. This meant that it used to be a grand cru for red grape only, and was a premier cru for white grapes. After this scale was formally abolished, the villages that had achieved grand cru or premier cru status have been allowed to keep this as a village, but no reference to grape varieties are made anymore, i.e., there are no longer any villages with “mixed cru status”. This means that Tours-sur-Marne now is a grand cru village for all varieties.

Single vineyard sites

Single vineyard sites in Tours-sur-Marne include the following:

  • Bas Vigne Goësse, a vineyard site with chalky soil in the northnorthwestern part of the commune. Harlin Père & Fils in Mareuil-le-Port produces a Rosé de Saignée (also called Cuvée Ephémère) composed of 100% Pinot Noir from this site.
  • Les Meslaines, a site with northnorthwestern part of the commune, on the norder to the narrow strip of Bouzy located between Tours-sur-Marne and Tauxières-Mutry. Lamiable produces a vineyard-designated Champagne (old vine Pinot Noir) from this site.

Champagne producers

Major Champagne houses, members of Union des Maisons de Champagne

  • Charles Lafitte (NM), a house that is part of the Vranken-Pommery-Monopole group. The range includes a vintage Champagne. Vranken-Pommery-Monopole has a large production facility in the Côte des Noirs area, serving both Charles Lafitte and Hedsieck & Co Monopole (which has its seat in Reims).
    Historik
    Charles Lafitte has been a part of what is now called Vranken-Pommery-Monopole since 1983, when Vranken bought the Cognac producer Charles Lafitte & Cie and launched Charles Lafitte as a Champagne brand. In 2003, the the once-famous Champagne house George Goulet, founded in 1834, was bought and in the company name of Charles Lafitte the text “successeur de George Goulet Maison Fondée en 1834” is now present.
  • Laurent-Perrier (NM), one of the largest Champagne houses, which in 2o14 was in 5th place with about 6.5 million bottles sold. Lauren-Parrier is the largest Champagne house that is majority-owned by a single family, in this case de Nonancourt. Laurent-Perrier has about 150 ha (370 acres) of their own vineyards. The vintage Champagne is composed of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir (refers to the 2006 vintage). The vintage rosé is called Alexandra and is a rosé de maceration composed of about 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay, where the Chardonnay component is blended in already during the maceration. The first vintage was 1982 and was launched in 1987. The prestige cuvée Grand Siècle is (with a few exceptions) non-vintage and was launched in 1959. It is composed of 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir from eleven grand cru village and is a blend of three vintages. In some vintages special vintage-dated versions have been released. Laurent-Perrier also owns the Champagne houses Salon, Delamotte (in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger), De Castellane (in Épernay), and J-P Lemoine.
    History
    The house was founded in 1812 by André Michel Pierlot, whose son Alphonse Pierlot, lacking heirs of his own, willed the company to this cellar master Eugène Laurent. After Laurent’s death in 1887, his widow Mathilde Emilie Perrier took over, and renamed the company Veuve Laurent-Perrier. Her daughter Eugénie Hortense Laurent inherited the company in 1925 and sold it in 1939 to Marie-Louise Lanson de Nonancourt. Her son Bernard de Nonancourt became manager in 1948, and led this house’s expansion until his retirement in 2005 (he died in 2010). Château Malakoff, with 60 ha of vineyards, was bought in 2004. The company went public in 1999, and 43% of the stock is in “general ownership” while the de Nonancourt family owns 57% (as of 2011).

The buildings of Laurent-Perrier in Tours-sur-Marne. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo by G.Garitan, 2013).

Other 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.

  • Chauvet (NM), also A. Chauvet, has vineyards in Bouzy, Verzenay, Verzy, Bisseuil, and Ambonnay. Their history as producer goes back to 1848. They are located at the maison Croix Saint-Jacques, which once upon a time was the property of the archbishop of Reims, until it was confiscated during the French Revolution. The building of its cellars was started in 1798 by a former owner. The vintage Champagne Cachet Rouge is a 100% Pinot Noir. The range also includes a Bouzy Rouge, a still red wine. Not to be confused with Henri Chauvet or Marc Chauvet, both in Rilly-la-Montagne. Chauvet also uses the brand:
    • Harlin, also written Maison C. Harlin et Cie fondée en 1848, so this could have been Chauvet’s original name. Not to be confused with Harlin Père & Fils in Port-à-Binson (in the Mareuil-le-Port commune) or Henri Harlin, which is a marque d’acheteur.

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.

  • Brisson-Lahaye (RM), has 4 ha of vineyards in various villages in the Marne area.
  • Yves Delporte (RM), has slightly more than 8 ha of vineyards. The range includes a vintage Champagne.
  • Faucheron-Gavroy (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants, has vineyards in Verzenay, Verzy, Beaumont-sur-Vesle, and Bisseuil, among others. The range includes a vintage Champagne composed of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir.
  • Glorieux Père et Fils (RC), member of the cooperative “Au Bouquet” in Bouzy.
  • Hardy (RC), also written Hardy Michel et Stéphane.
  • Lamiable, has 5.5 ha of vineyards. Produces two varietal Champagnes from vineyards in Tours-sur-Marne, Les Meslaines which is a 100% Pinot Noir from old vines in the vineyard site, and Cuvée Phéérie, a 100% Chardonnay from the Côte des Noirs area (the northeastern part of the commune). Cuvée Heliades is an oak barrel-vinified vintage Champagne composed of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir (refers to the 2011 vintage). Also a rosé de saignée version exists.

Comment: the list may not be complete.

The church in Tours-sur-Marne as seen from the Marne Canal. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo October Ends, 2012).

Links

© Tomas Eriksson 2014-2016, last update 2016-04-03

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