Champagne village profile: Sillery, a grand cru village in the Grande Montage de Reims

Diagram Sillery 201504Key facts

Located in: Montagne & Val de Reims: Grande Montagne de Reims
Vineyards and grape varieties: 92.1 hectares (227.6 acres), of which 57.5% Chardonnay, 33.2% Pinot Noir, and 9.3% Pinot Meunier.
Classification: Grand cru (100%)
Noted for: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from grand cru-classified vineyards, once upon a time one of the best known Champagne villages.

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 Sillery are in green, the premier cru villages are in yellow, and the autre cru villages in orange. The Perle blanche area is shown as a light green box.

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

Neighbouring villages

West: Puisieulx (grand cru)
Southwest: Mailly-Champagne (grand cru)
South: Verzenay (grand cru)
Southeast: Beaumont-sur-Vesle (grand cru)

The yacht port of Sillery, located in the Canal de l’Aisne à la Marne. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Garitan, 2012).

The village

The Sillery village is located on the more flat land below the actual Montagne de Reims slope, on the other side of the A4 highway.

The Sillery commune consists of 920 hectares and has 1698 inhabitants (as of 2013) called Sillerotins and Sillerotines.

In the southern part of the commune, there are grand cru-classified vineyards that border to those of Verzenay and Mailly-Champagne. Most owners of vineyards in Sillery are found in other villages.

In former times Sillery was a more well-known Champagne village than it is today. In his 1875 book, Facts About Champagne and Other Sparkling Wines, Henry Vizetelly describes Aÿ and Sillery as the two villages that are best known abroad, but this apparently only lasted until about this time, the late 19th century, in the case of Sillery. It seems that the renown of the Sillery wines was created already in the 17th century, by the Brûlart de Sillery family and their Château de Sillery. At this time, the style of wines produced in Champagne were still wines. The last owner in the direct line was a lady called Adelaïde, maréchale d’Estrées (died in 1785), and the wines from her time were called Clos de la maréchale. What was then called Sillery wines were most likely sourced from the entire northern side of the Montagne de Reims rather than from just the Sillery village. After the French Revolution, the former vineyards of Brûlart were sold to Moët and Ruinart.

View of the Montage de Reims with the eastern, mostly industrial part of Sillery in the foreground. Rather far to the right, the Phare de Verzenay lighthouse is visible, and to the far right the Verzenay village. Just to the left of the middle, the Verzy village is situated in the slope. The main part of the vineyards in the picture are located in the Verzy. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Garitan, 2012).

Vineyards

The vineyards in Sillery have mild northeast-facing slopes, and are located in the southern part of the commune, a smaller part at the border to Puisieulx, and a larger part at the border to Verzenay and Mailly-Champagne. Just as these three neighbours, Sillery is classified grand cru.

The current vineyard surface in the Sillery commune is 92.1 hectares (227.6 acres). There are 52.9 ha Chardonnay (57.5%), 30.5 ha Pinot Noir (33.2%), and 8.7 ha Pinot Meunier (9.3%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 92 ha. There are 35 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Champagne houses that control vineyards in Sillery include Moët & Chandon and Ruinart. Ruinart uses Chardonnay from Sillery is a major component (on average 35%) of Dom Ruinart, their prestige Champagne.

The wine maker of Ruinart, Frédéric Panaïotis, has compared Chardonnay from Sillery to Corton-Charlemagne in Burgundy, which e.g. means that these wines take a long time to mature and still come across as a young wine at ten years of age.

Single vineyard sites

  • Les Champs de Romont is one of the vineyards from which Moët & Chandon has formerly produced a vineyard-designated Champagne, in the box La Trilogie des Grands Crus (that I haven’t seen on the market for a couple of years now). Curiously enough, Moët’s about 8 hectares in this vineyard apparently consist of Pinot Meunier, which means that this vineyard contain almost all Pinot Meunier in Sillery. There is rather little Pinot Meunier in the grand cru villages, and finding a varietal Meunier grand cru is quite rare. My guess is that the grapes from this vineyard usually goes into vintage Moët, since Dom Pérignon doesn’t contain any Pinot Meunier. Moët has owned this vineyard since 1807.

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. MA = marque d’acheteur = a brand used on finished bottles bought-in.

  • Virginie T. (MA, on its way to NM?) is a recently started Champagne house run by Virginie Taittinger, and has a winery in Sillery since October 2013, but it doesn’t seem to have been inaugurated until 2014. The Champagnes have formerly been produced by other producers, and the company still has its main address in Paris, but should reasonably be in the process of becoming a négociant-manipulant once bottles from their own winery are ready for sale. Virginie T. focuses on direct sales, e.g. online, rather than via traditional distribution channels. The so far most ambitious Champagne of their range was launched in January 2016: Grande Cuvée 6 ans d’âge, a non-vintage composed of 70% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay, and 10% Pinot Meunier, and mostly composed of 2008 (plus 15% reserve wine from 2007) in its inaugural release.
    History
    Virginie Taittinger is the daughter of Claude Taittinger and was working within the Taittinger Champagne house until 2006; around this time the house had another owner for a period. Her mother Catherine de Suarez d’Aulan is of the family that owned Piper-Heidsieck until 1988. Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, who today heads Champagne Taittinger, is the cousin of Virginie. Virginie T. started up its activities 2008, when the financial crisis made it possible to access grapes since many existing houses then wanted to buy less. The first Champagnes started to be sold in 2013. Although Virginie T. was started as a marque d’acheteur, this arrangement is a form of contract production as an interim solution rather than purchase of ready-made bottles. The production from the 2009 vintage is said to have been 150 000 bottles, of which 50 000 bottles of vintage Champagne. Judging from existing labels, Manuel Janisson in Verzenay has produced Virginie T. Champagnes before their own winery existed.

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.

  • Collin-Guillaume (RC), has 8.5 ha of vineyards, of which some in Barséquanais and Vitryat. Also has a small amount of the unusual grape varieties Arbanne and Petit Meslier. The vintage Champagne is called Grande Cuvée and is composed of 60% Chardonnay, 24% Pinot Meunier, and 16% Pinot Noir (refers to the 2006 vintage).
  • David Floquet
  • Fresnet-Baudot (RM), has vineyards in Verzy, Mailly-Champagne, and Sillery, with 2/3 Pinot Noir and 1/3 Chardonnay. The vintage Champagne, Élégance, is oaked and is composed of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir (refers to the 1999 vintage). The range also includes a Sillery Rouge, i.e., a still red wine (Coteaux Champenois).
  • Jean Langlais
  • François Secondé (RM), a member of Vignerons Independants with 5.5 ha of vineyards in Sillery, Mailly-Champagne, Puilsieux, and Verzenay, with 2/3 Pinot Noir and 1/3 Chardonnay. They are apparently the only current producer of monocru Champagnes from Sillery. The vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs from Sillery and La Loge is a non-vintage blanc de noirs from Sillery. Puisieulx Les Petits Vignes is a vineyard-designated Champagne from a site in Puisieulx, and is composed of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. It is produced in a solera, and was launched in 2015(?) and was the composed of the vintages 2009, 2010, and 2011. The range also includes two still wines from Sillery, a Sillery Blanc (a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) and a Sillery Rouge (old vines Pinot Noir).

Comment: the list may be incomplete.

Links

© Tomas Eriksson 2014-2016, last update 2017-08-19

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One Response to Champagne village profile: Sillery, a grand cru village in the Grande Montage de Reims

  1. Walter says:

    This is great thank you.

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