Champagne village profile: Rilly-la-Montagne, a premier cru village in the Grande Montagne de Reims

Diagram Rilly-la-Montagne 201504Key facts

Located in: Montagne & Val de Reims: Grande Montagne de Reims
Vineyards and grape varieties: 315.1 hectares (778.6 acres), of which 38.9% Pinot Noir, 36.6% Pinot Meunier, and 24.5% Chardonnay.
Classification: Premier cru (94%)
Noted for: Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir from north-facing slopes, home of Vilmart.

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 is 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: Villers-Allerand (premier cru)
North: Montbré (premier cru)
Northnortheast: Taissy (premier cru)
Eastsoutheast: Chigny-les-Roses (premier cru)

The town hall (mairie) of Rilly-la-Montagne. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Garitan, 2012).

The village

Rilly-la-Montagne is located on the northern side of the Montagne de Reims hill, just a few kilometers south of the southern outskirts of Reims, and just east of the road between Reims and Épernay.

The Rilly-la-Montagne commune has a surface of 887 hectares and 1034 inhabitants (as of 2012), referred to as Rillois and Rilloises.

The railroad that crosses the Montage de Reims from south to north runs through Rilly-la-Montage and there is a railroad station in the village.

On top of its classification as a premier cru Champagne village, Rilly-la-Montagne can also be proud of its four flowers in the Villes et Villages Fleurie classification.

The entrance to Rilly-la-Montagne from the north, along the D409 road from Taissy. Some vineyards are visible on the right-hand side of the picture. The hill in the distance is called Mont Ferré and is located in the Taissy commune. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Garitan, 2012).

Vineyards

The vineyards in Rilly-la-Montagne are mostly located on north-facing slopes, and consist mostly of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

The current vineyard surface in the Rilly-la-Montagne commune is 315.1 hectares (778.6 acres). There are 122.6 ha Pinot Noir (38,9%), 115.2 ha Pinot Meunier (36,6%), 77.2 ha Chardonnay (24,5%), and 0.1 ha others (<0.1%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 311 ha. There are 148 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

The proportion of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Rilly-la-Montagne has increased in recent years, and not too long ago, Pinot Meunier was the most planted grape variety in the commune.

A Champagne house that controls vineyards in Rilly-la-Montagne is Cattier.

Single vineyard sites

Single vineyard sites in Rilly-la-Montagne include, among others:

  • Le Bas Clos, a rather flat vineyard site northeast of the village. Borders in the south to Les Bas Moutions. It is situated further down the slope than the other clos-named sites in Rilly-la-Montagne.
  • Les Bas Moutions, a north-facing slope with a mild slope situated northeast of the village, close to the border to Chigny-les-Roses. Borders in the north to Le Bas Clos. Philippe Dumont in Chigny-les-Roses produces two 100% Pinot Noir Champagnes from this site: Perle Noir and Havana.
  • Les Clos, a north-facing site with a mild slope immediately to the northeast of the village. Borders in the east to Le Clos Dérard and in the north to Les Clos des Prés. No vineyard wall.
  • Le Clos Dérard, a north-facing site with a mild slope close to the village to the eastnortheast. Borders in the west to Les Clos. No vineyard wall.
  • Les Clos des Prés, a north-facing site with a mild slope close to the village to the northeast. Borders in the south to Les Clos. No vineyard wall.
  • Les Clos Saint-Paul, a north-facing site with a mild slope close to the village to the east, located immediately above the D26 road. Borders in the northeast to D26 and in the southeast to Les Clos Yons. No vineyard wall.
  • Les Clos Yons, a vineyard site with a rather mild slope east of the village, on the border to Chigny-les-Roses and immediately above the D26 road. The slope mostly faces northeast, with some variations around this axis in outer part of the site. Borders in the northeast to the D26 road and in the northwest to Le Clos Saint-Paul. No vineyard wall. Cattier in Chigny-les-Roses has a holding of 1.1 ha here, planted to 100% with Pinot Meunier. The grapes from this site have been used for Armand de Brignac Brut Gold, but Cattier intend to launch a vineyard-designated vintage Armand de Brignac from this site. They didn’t consider the 2011 good enough, so the 2012 vintage will probably be the first vintage, and the launch could take place in 2018 if they give it the same time in the cellar as the non-vintage Armand de Brignac cuvées – at least five years on the lees and another half year on the cork.

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. ND = négociant-distributeur, which means that they at least partly sell Champagnes produced by someone else, but under their own name.

  • Adam-Garnotel (NM), has just under 10 ha of vineyards. The vintage Champagne is composed of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir.
  • François Fagot (NM), has vineyards with 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, and 20% Pinot Meunier. The vintage Champagne is composed of 80% Pinot Noir (refers to the 2002 vintage).
  • Didier Herbert (NM), has vineyards in Rilly-la-Montagne, Ludes, Trois-Puits, Mailly-Champagne, and Verzenay. The range includes two vintage Champagnes: Les Coutres which is composed of 100% Chardonnay and is oak barrel-vinified, and Platinum which is composed of 65% Chardonnay and 35% Pinot Noir (refers to the 2009 vintage). Site for their capsules, that are produced in various special editions.
    Website for their capsules, that are produced in many special versions.
  • J. Lemoine (NM) has an address in Rilly-la-Montagne, and is owned by and functions as a secondary brand to Laurent-Perrier in Tours-sur-Marne.
  • Martial-Couvreur (ND), was formerly located in Rilly-la-Montagne but can now be found in Reims. The vineyards contain 45% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier, and 15% Chardonnay, and are located in Rilly-la-Montagne and Courville. The vintage Champagne is called Hommage.

Former Champagne houses

  • Henri Germain (NM), on the labels also written H. Germain, was a house founded in 1898 by Henri-Antoine Germain. In 1943, Germain bought the house Binet in Reims from Piper-Heidsieck. In 1985, Henri Germain (1906-1990), the son of Henri-Antoine, sold the house to Jean-Jacques Frey. Henri Germain was also active as a football manager, and headed the team Stade de Reims for several decades. After his death, the cuvée President was created in his honour. In 1999, Frey sold the house Henri Germain to Vranken Monopole in Reims (but kept all vineyards and initially the brand Binet and the château in Rilly-la-Montagne). At this time, Henri Germain was a brand mostly sold in supermarkets in northern France, with an annual volume of about 1 million bottles. The brand current seems less used, and I’ve not been able to figure out if  Vranken still owns it.

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.

  • Thierry Bardoux (RM), formerly Marc Bardoux, has 4.5 ha of vineyards. The vintage Champagne is composed of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir (refers to the 2009 vintage).
  • Beurton-Couvreur (RC)
  • Philippe Brugnon was earlier located in Rilly-la-Montagne, but is now called M. Brugnon and can be found in Écueil.
  • Henri Chauvet (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants. Has 8.2 ha of vineyards with 60% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, and 10% Pinot Meunier, and an annual production of 65 000-70 000 bottles. The range includes three vintage Champagnes: Cuvée Blanche is made from 100% Chardonnay, Cuvée Noire is made from Pinot Noir, and Cuvée Adonis is made from oak barrel-vinified Chardonnay. The two Chauvet producers in Rilly-la-Montagne shouldn’t be confused with Chauvet/A. Chauvet in Tours-sur-Marne.
  • Marc Chauvet (RM, also has a blog). Has 6 ha of vineyards in Rilly-la-Montagne, and also vineyards in Mont-Saint-Père (in the Vallée de la Marne Ouest). Annual production is 80 000-100 000 bottles. Used to be a Special Club producer, but seems to have left rather recently. The most recent Special Club vintage I’ve seen (as of the autumn 2014) is a 2005 with 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. Their regular vintage Champagne is composed of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay (referes to the 2008 vintage).
  • Yves Couvreur (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants with 6.7 ha of vineyards of which 5.7 ha in Rilly-la-Montagne, 0.6 ha in Taissy, and 0.4 ha in Montbré. The range includes three vintage Champagnes: Expression is 100% Pinot Noir, Prestige is composed of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir (refers to the 2010 vintage), and Audace is 100% Chardonnay.
  • Couvreur-Deglaire (RM), has just over 4 ha of vineyards. The range includes a vintage Champagne.
  • Couvreur-Fondeur (RC)
  • Couvreur-Philippart (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants with 7.5 ha of vineyards. The vintage Champagne is composed of 50% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Meunier, and 25% Pinot Noir.
  • André Delaunouis (RM), has 7.6 ha of vineyards in the Rilly-la-Montagne. The range includes two vintage Champagnes: a blanc de blancs and Dame Palmyre which is 100% Pinot Noir from old vines.
  • Delaunois D. & Fils (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants. The range includes a vintage Champagne composed of 1/3 each of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Noir.
  • Daniel Dumont (RM), also Dumont, member of Vignerons Indépendants with 10 ha of vineyards in Villers-Allerand, Rilly-la-Montagne, Chigny-les-Roses, and Ludes, as well as in Sézanne and Vindey in the Sézannais area, and Barzy-sur-Marne in the Vallée de la Marne. In total they have 40% Chardonnay, 34% Pinot Noir, and 27% Pinot Meunier. The only vintage Champagne (also called Grande Réserve and Réserve) is composed of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay (refers to the 2010 vintage) and Cuvée d’Excellence is composed of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir.
  • Joseph & Hubert Fagot (RC), has about 12 ha of vineyards with 1/3 each of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. The Champagnes are also sold under the two brands:
    • Joseph Fagot, including a vintage Champagne composed of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
    • Hubert Fagot, that is used for younger Champagnes; the vintage Champagne seems to be the same.
  • Michel Fagot (RM, Facebook page), has 15 ha of vineyards in Rilly-la-Montagne, Villers-Allerand, and Trigny (in the Massif de Saint-Thierry). The regular vintage Champagne is now called Royal Brut, and there are usually some older vintages available. Cuvée Sélection des Clos is a vintage Champagne produced from old vines. Michel Fagot has a holding in Le Clos de Marzilly in Hermonville, with Pinot Meunier, and a vineyard-designated Champagne from that site is probably on its way.
  • Olivier Herbert, has 4.6 ha of vineyards. The range includes a vintage Champagne composed of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir.
  • Stéphane Herbert, whose vintage Champagne is a 100% Chardonnay from the vineyard site Les Beaux-Regards.
  • Didier Jeangout (RC), has vineyards in Rilly-la-Montagne, Montbré, Chigny-les-Roses, and Ludes.
  • François Lecompte (RM), whose range includes a vintage Champagne and Cuvée Céleste (60% Ch, the rest PM+PN) is fermented in oak barrels.
  • Lefèvre-Beuzart, whose range includes the vintage Champagne Secret which is composed of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
  • Legrand-Garitan, has 3 ha of vineyards in Rilly-la-Montagne, Villers-Allerand, Ludes, Montbré, and Sermiers with 48% Pinot Noir, 32% Pinot Meunier, and 20% Chardonnay.
  • Veuve Maurice Lepitre (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants. Cultivates 40% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Meunier, and 20% Pinot Noir.
  • Roger Manceaux (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants, has 12 ha of vineyards. The regular vintage Champagne is composed of 50% Chardonnay from Taissy and 50% Pinot Noir from Rilly-la-Montagne (refers to the 2008 vintage), and Héritage is an oak barrel-vinified vintage Champagne composed of 60% Pinot Noir from Rilly-la-Montagne and 40% Chardonnay from Taissy (refers to the 2005 vintage). The video clip below introduces the producer and also gives a good picture of the vineyards in the village:

  • Paques et Fils (RM), has 10 ha of vineyards and an annual production of about 95 000 bottles. The vintage Champagnen is called Origine and contains a majority of Chardonnay.
  • Hubert Paulet (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants. Has slightly more than 8 ha of vineyards, all of it in Rilly-la-Montagne. The vintage Champagne is called Cuvée Risléus, is oak barrel-vinified and is composed of 47% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Meunier, and 20% Pinot Noir (refers to the 2002 vintage). The range also includes a vintage rosé saignée composed of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier (refers to the 2006 vintage).
  • Philbert & Fils (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants. Has 9.4 ha of vineyards, mainly in Rilly-la-Montagne, but also in Villers-Allerand, Ludes, and Taissy. The range includes a vintage Champagne.
  • Jean Regnault
  • Claude Vilmart (RC)
  • Vilmart Père et Fils (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants.
  • Vilmart & Cie (RM) is a producer that was one of the small producers that got attention for their high quality, as well for their use of oak barrels. It is still one of the best smaller producers in Champagne. Laurent Champs took over Vilmart in 1989, and from the early 1990s they started to receive a lot of attention. Member of Vignerons Indépendants, and has 11 ha of vineyards with 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, which is a surprisingly high proportion of Chardonnay for a location on the Montagne de Reims. Their Champagnes are full-bodied and foody but also well polished, with a rather noticeable oak component that tends to become finely integrated with cellaring. Large oak barrels are used for the non-vintage cuvées and small oak barrels (10 months in 228 liter barrels) for their vintage Champagnes, which in my opinion should always be cellared, in particular Cœur de Cuvée. The range includes three vintage Champagnes: Grand Cellier d’Or (80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir – Grand Cellier without “d’Or” in its name is a non-vintage cuvée, though), the rosé Rubis (60% PN/40% Ch), and the prestige cuvée Cœur de Cuvée (80% Ch/20% PN).

Comment: The list is probably not not complete.

Former producers

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 de Rilly la Montagne, doesn’t seem to have a website. It is one of the 82 cooperatives that are members of the huge cooperative Centre Vinicole Champagne-Nicolas Feuillatte (CVC-NF), which has its main facility in Chouilly.

Links

© Tomas Eriksson 2014-2016, last update 2016-09-04

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