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

Diagram Verzenay 201504Key facts

Located in subregion / area: Montagne & Val de Reims / Grande Montagne de Reims
Vineyards and grape varieties: 418.0 hectares (1032.9 acres), of which 86% Pinot Noir, 14% Chardonnay, and 0.6% Pinot Meunier.
Classification: Grand cru (100%)
Noted for: good Pinot Noir from north-facing slopes, and the Champagne museum in the Phare de Verzenay.

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 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

West: Mailly-Champagne (grand cru)
Northnorthwest: Sillery (grand cru)
Northeast: Beaumont-sur-Vesle (grand cru)
Southeast: Verzy (grand cru cru)

View over Verzenay from the hill where the Phare de Verzenay is located. In the background, Le Moulin de Verzenay is visible on the top of the Mont-Bœuf hill. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Lomita, 2013).

The village

Verzenay is located in the middle of the slope on the north side of Montagne de Reims, between two hills that “stick out” from the slope.

The Verzenay commune has a surface of 1062 hectares and 1053 inhabitants (as of 2011), known as Bouquins and Bouquines respectively. This somewhat strange nickname of the inhabitants, which isn’t directly related to the name of the village, may originate with a demand from an earlier Seigneur de Verzenay that the villagers should always bring a bouquet of flowers when coming into his presence.

During World War I, the village was partially destroyed since it was located very close to the front.

Phare de Verzenay

The Phare de Verzenay in the background and the village in the foreground. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Pline, 2012).

The lighthouse (Phare) that is located on the east side of the village, i.e., in the direction of Verzy, houses a Champagne museum worth visiting. The lighthouse – located on dry ground quite a bit from the closest shoreline, om a hill called Mont Rizan – was built in  1909 by Joseph Goulot to advertise his Champagne house. The sides of the buildings had big letters saying JOSEPH and GOULOT. After a few joyous years as a meeting point, the lighthouse served as an observation post during World War I, and then stood deserted for a long time. In 1987, the commune bought the lighthouse and in 1995 the remodeling of it into a museum was started. The museum was opened in 1999. Below a video clip showing the Phare de Verzenay:

Le Moulin de Verzenay

Picture linked form Wikimedia Commons (photo Vassil, 2007)

A characteristic windmill (moulin à vent) on the Mont-Bœuf hill just west of the village, i.e., in the direction of Mailly-Champagne, is today used for hospitality functions by the Champagne house Mumm. The windmill was built in 1818 and was used for milling until 1903. In 1923 it was purchased by Heidsieck & Co Monopole, and in 1949 they had the buildings renovated. In 1972, the windmill was purchased by Mumm.

Vineyards

The vineyards of Verzenay are on average north-facing, but the two flanking the village means that there are also some east- and west-facing slopes. The vineyards are dominated by Pinot Noir.

The current vineyard surface in the Verzenay commune is 418.0 hectares (1032.9 acres). There are 358.0 ha Pinot Noir (85.7%), 57.3 ha Chardonnay (13.7%), 2.4 ha Pinot Meunier (0.6%), and 0.3 ha others (<0.1%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 411 ha. There are 198 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Champagne houses that control vineyards in Verzenay includes Bollinger, Duval-Leroy, Moët & Chandon, Mumm, Roederer, and Taittinger.

Single vineyard sites and vineyard-designated Champagnes

  • Blanc de Noirs Mumm de Verzenay is produced from grapes from the first vineyard (the name is not mentioned) that Georges Hermann Mumm bought in 1840, pressed in the first own press house of Mumm, bought in 1843.
  • Les Noues. Jean-Claude Mouzon produces an oaked blanc de noirs from this vineyard, under the designation Brut Intégral, with 2005 as the first vintege.

Vineyards next to Le Moulin de Verzenay. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Pline, 2012).

Champagne producers

Major Champagne houses, members of the Union des Maisons de Champagne

  • Chaudron, a house that earlier wrote Chaudron & Fils on the label. They also sell Champagnes under the brands:
    • Goulet
    • La Salle
  • Janisson & Fils, a Champagne house today run by Manuel Janisson, and which was founded in 1990 in its current form, but with a prehistory going back to 1923. In 2014, they moved into a newly built facility. The have about 10 ha vineyards of their own.
  • Eugène Ralle, a Champagne house founded in 1925, that was taken over by his grandson Pierre Arnould in 1955, and who also created his own. The house therefore also sells Champagnes under the brand:
    • Pierre Arnould

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.

  • Pehu-Simonet (NM), has 6 ha of vineyards in Verzenay and neighbouring villages.
    Blog posts with tastings of Pehu-Simonet have been posted in 20132014, and 2015. Below a video clip with David Pehu, where he talks about a vineyard used for his blanc de noirs.

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.

  • Michel Arnould & Fils (RM), a good producer with about 12 ha of vineyards in Verzenay with 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. The sales volume in 2012 was 105 000 bottles, of which 55% was exported.
  • Arnould de Beaufort (RM), has vineyards in Verzenay, Verzy, Aÿ, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, and Oger.
  • Pierre Berthon & Fils, has vineyards in Verzenay and Verzy.
  • Denis Bovière (RM), has 4 ha of vineyards and produces 25 000 bottles per year.
  • Bovière-Doria
  • Bovière-Périnet (RC)
  • Christian Busin (RM), member of Vignerons Indépedants, annual production is slightly more than 60 000 bottles.
  • Jacques Busin (RM), has mostly vineyards in Verzenay, but also inVerzy, Sillery, and Ambonnay.
  • Cappelle Charpentier
  • Daye Decotte was earlier located in Verzenay, but now seems to be in Mailly-Champagne and no longer produce themselves.
  • Jean-Yves De Carlini (RM), member of Vignerons Indépedants. Has 6.5 ha of vineyards and an annual production of about 75 000 bottles.
  • Louis Dousset (website being overhauled in Sep 2014, but can also be found on Facebook), has 10 ha of vineyards and an annual production of 50 000-90 000 bottles.
  • Duval-Charpentier (RM), has 5.5 ha of vineyards and an annual production of 25 000 bottles. Only Pinot Noir from Verzenay and no malolactic fermentation.
  • A. Francinet & Fils
  • Godmé Père et Fils (RM), member of Vignerons Indépedants. Has a bit more than 11 ha of vineyards in Verzenay, Beaumont-sur-Vesle, Verzy, Ville-Dommange (in Vesle & Ardre), and Villers-Marmery with 55% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, and 15% Pinot Meunier. The practice organic farming and aim for biodynamic certification (possibly in 2014). They produce a vineyard-deignated vintage Champagne (100% Chardonnay) from the vineyard Les Alouettes in Villers-Marmery, under the name Les Alouettes Saint Bets. Below a video clop that presents this producer:

  • Bernard Hatté (RM), has 10 ha of vineyards. Used to be a Special Club producer, but no longer seems to be a member. The last vintage of the Special Club that I have seen was a 2004 with the composition 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay.
  • Ludovic Hatté (RM), member of Vignerons Indépedants. Has 10 ha of vineyards in Verzenay, Verzy, Beaumont-sur-Vesle, and Sillery, as well as in the Vallée de l’Ardre (where they only grow Pinot Meunier). The most ambitious cuvées are called Charles-Louis Des Livry (100% Pinot Noir from Verzenay) and Gratien Hatté (100% Chardonnay from Montagne de Reims).
  • Marc Henriet (RM; Facebook seems to be used more actively than the website by this producer)
  • Michel Henriet (RM)
  • Jean Lallement et Fils (RM), has 4 ha of vineyards in Verzenay and Verzy. Annual production about 20 000 bottles.
  • Landragin
  • Jean-Paul Morel (RC), has 9 ha and an annual production of 20 000-30 000 bottles.
  • Jean-Claude Mouzon (RM), member of Vignerons Indépedants. Small amounts of oaked vintage Champagnes are produced under the designation Brut Intégral. The first was a blanc de blancs in the 2003 vintage. In the 2005 vintage, a blanc de noirs was added, produced from Pinot Noir from the vineyard Les Noues in Verzenay.
  • Thierry Perrion (RM), a small producer with an annual production of about 8000 bottles. Their Champagnes consist of Pinot Noir from Verzenay and Chardonnay from Avize. (Their grapes from Trépail are sold.)
  • Emmanuel Pithois (RM; website not active in Sep 2014, but is connected to Maison des Vignes de Verzenay that rents out rooms), has 5 ha of vineyards in Verzenay, and an annual production of 30 000-35 000 bottles.
  • Michel Pithois (RM), blog, (website not active in Sep 2014). Has 4 ha of vineyards in Beaumont-sur-Vesle, Verzenay, Verzy, and Tauxières, as well as in Vavray-le-Grand and Val-de-Vière (two villages in Vitryat), with 2/3 Pinot Noir and 1/3 Chardonnay.
  • Hervy Quenardel (RC), has 5.8 ha of vineyards in Verzenay, Verzy, and Sillery with 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. Annual production about 40 000 bottles.
  • Quenardel & Fils (RM), has 8 ha of vineyards in Verzenay, Berru (in the Monts de Berru, northeast of Reims), Ludes, and Fontaine-Denis (in Sézannais). Annual production is about 75 000 bottles.
  • Jacques Rousseaux (RM), has 7 ha of vineyards.
  • Olivier Rousseaux (RM), member of Vignerons Indépedants. Has 4.9 ha of vineyards with 80% Pinot Noir, 10% Pinot Meunier, and 10% Chardonnay.
  • Rosseaux-Daye (RM)
  • Guy Thibaut (RM), has 2 ha of vineyards with 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay.
  • Vignon Père & Fils (RM), has 5 ha of vineyards.

Comment: There are supposed to exist 85 RM in Verzenay, so the list is not complete.

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 (à Verzenay), doesn’t seem to have a website.

Video clip

A video clip from the 2011 harvest in Verzenay, at the Moulin de Verzenay:

Links

© Tomas Eriksson 2014-2015, last update 2017-07-25

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