Champagne village profile: Fontaine-sur-Aÿ in the Grande Montagne de Reims – a recent addition from the 1990s

Diagram Fontaine-sur-Aÿ 201503Key facts

Located in: Montagne & Val de Reims: Grande Montagne de Reims
Vineyards and grape varieties: 29.9 hectares (73.9 acres), of which 69% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, and 1% Pinot Meunier.
Classification: “Autre cru” (80%)
Noted for: Became an approved village for Champagne vineyards in 1990, good Pinot Noir from south-facing slopes.
Not to be confused with: Fontaine in the Bar-sur-Aube

Maps

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


Google Maps view with the villages in the Grande Montagne de Reims highlighted. The grand cru villages are in green, the premier cru villages are in yellow, and the autre cru villages in orange. The light green box shows the Perle blanche area.

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

Neighbouring villages

Northnorthwest: Germaine
East: Tauxières-Mutigny
South: Bisseuil (premier cru), part of Grande Vallée de la Marne
Southsouthwest: Avenay-Val-d’Or (premier cru), part of Grande Vallée de la Marne

The town hall (mairie) of Fontenay-sur-Aÿ. Picture linked form Wikimedia Commons (photo by G.Garitan, 2013).

The village

The church in Fontaine-sur-Aÿ. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo G.Garitan, 2013).

Fontaine-sur-Aÿ is located in the slope northeast of Aÿ, and sufficiently far from the Marne river to be counted as part of the Montagne de Reims. Its immediate neighbour to the southwest, Avenay-Val-d’Or, is counted to the Grande Vallée de la Marne.

The Fontaine-sur-Aÿ commune covers 772 hectares and counts 343 inhabitants (as of 2013), referred to as Fontenois and Fontenoises.

Fontaine-sur-Aÿ was first included in the zone de production of Champagne in 1990. This zone consists of the communes where vineyards of the appellation may be located. The individual vineyard sites must also be approved, so it is not possible to plant vineyards at random within these communes’ borders. The reason why this commune wasn’t included earlier, despite a good location on the slope of Montagne de Reims, was that the earlier mayors simply didn’t apply to be included in the period 1908 to 1927 when the borders of the wine region were drawn up. The grape production had probably ceased a few decades earlier when the wine louse arrived, meaning that no active grape grower were found in the village during these years.

Vineyards

The vineyards in Fontaine-sur-Aÿ are predominantly south-facing slopes, mostly with Pinot Noir.

The current vineyard surface in the commune is 29.9 hectares (73.9 acres). There are 20.7 ha Pinot Noir (69.1%), 8.9 ha Chardonnay (29.8%), and 0.3 ha Pinot Meunier (1.1%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. Around 2002, the vineyard surface was 10.1 ha. There are 32 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

The vineyard surface has been increasing several years into the 2000s. The first vineyards were reasonably planted after 1990 (or even 1995), and then there was a delay for a couple of years before grapes could be harvested. In a list of vinneyard surface per village from 1997, Fontaine-sur-Aÿ wasn’t included, but a figure from approximately 2002 said 10.1 ha, compared to 29.9 ha in 2013. This is probably the maximum vineyard surface possible for now, since I found a statement that 30 ha had been approved in 1995. Interesting enough, the commune became the owner of 2 ha of vineyards, and gets income from renting out these plots.

The “autre cru” status

When Fontaine-sur-Aÿ was allowed into the Champagne appellation, it was at the lowest level of the échelle des crus, 80%. The village therefore became an “autre cru”, although its slopes are continuous with similar slopes of two premier cru villages, one on each side of this village, Avenay-Val-d’Or and Tauxières-Mutry. I assume that a track record of delivering good grapes was needed for a higher position rather than just an interpolation of the classification of the neighbouring villages, which seems reasonable.

Since the échelle des crus is now abolished, there will be no more promotions to premier cru status, since this designation has simply been kept for those villages that already had it. Or at least that is the case unless a complete makeover of the classification would be done. In that case I assume there could be a vineyard-level classification as in Burgundy. But this is not likely to happen anytime soon, if ever.

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. 

  • David Billiard (NM, also has a blog), formerly a grower-status champagne producer (RM) who has become a négociant. Primarily uses grapes from Avenay-Val-d’Or, but also from Montagne de Reims. Cuvée Prestige is non-vintage and oak barrel-vinified and is composed of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir.

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.

  • Gaiffe-Brun (RM), a member of Vignerons Indépendants with 3.3 ha of vineyards, of which about 2.5 ha Pinot Noir, 0.5 ha Chardonnay, and 0.25 ha Pinot Meunier. Has organic and biodynamic (Demeter) certification.
  • Laurent Jacqueminet (RC), also Jacqueminet Leclerc, whose range includes a vintage Champagne.

Links

© Tomas Eriksson 2014-2016, last updated 2017-01-12

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