Champagne village profile: Merfy in the Massif de Saint-Thierry

Diagram Merfy 201504Key facts

Located in: Montagne & Val de Reims: Massif de Saint-Thierry
Vineyards and grape varieties: 45.7 hectares (112.9 acres), of which 46% Pinot Meunier, 34% Pinot Noir, and 20% Chardonnay.
Classification: ”Autre cru” (84%)
Noted for: home village of Chartogne-Taillet

Map

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, orange is built-up areas, and green indicates forest.

Neighbouring villages

North: Pouillon
Northeast/east: Saint-Thierry
Southwest: Châlons-sur-Vesle
West: Chenay
Comment: some of the neighbouring communes to the South are not part of the Champagne appellation and therefore don’t have any village profiles. 

The village

The town hall (mairie) of Merfy. The Church can be seen in the background. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Garitan, 2011).

Merfy is located in the northwestern part of the Champagne region, just northwest of Reims.

The A26/E17 motorway (later called E15), from Reims in the direction of Calais, goes through the southern part of the commune.

The Merfy commune covers 669 hectares and has 622 inhabitants (as of 2012) referred to as merfiens and merfiennes.

Viticulture in Merfy has a long tradition, and is supposed to have been initated already in the 7th century by the monks of the Saint-Thierry monastery in the neighbouring village. In the Medieval ages, this monastery had one of the region’s largest vineyard holdings.

Vineyards

The vineyards in Merfy are partly located to the south of the village (this is the main part) and partly between Merfy and Chenay, i.e., to the west of the village. The vineyards are located on almost flat land, with very mild slopes of varying exposure including south.

Many of Merfy’s vineyards contain sandy soils.

The current vineyard surface in the Merfy commune is 45.7 hectares (112.9 acres). There are 21.1 ha Pinot Meunier (46.2%), 15.5 ha Pinot Noir (33.8%), and 9.1 ha Chardonnay (20%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 43 ha. There are 21 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Single vineyard sites

On their website, Chartogne-Taillet has a an overview map of the vineyard sites in the village and detailed information of all the Merfy sites where their vineyards are located.

  • Le Chemin de Reims is located close to the village, to the southsoutheast, and is characterised by calcareous sand soil. Chartogne-Taillet has 1.67 ha Chardonnay here, which partly is used for a vineyard-designated Champagne (first vintage 2008?) and partly for the cuvée Fiacre, as well as 0.13 ha Pinot Meunier and 0.17 ha Arbanne.
  • Les Alliées is located to the west of the village and is characterised by dark sand soil. Chartogne-Taillet produces a vineyard-designated Champagne from old vines Pinot Meunier from 0.60 ha in this site. First vintage 2007?
  • Les Barres is located to the south of the village and is characterised by sand soils on chalk 2 meter down. Chartogne-Taillet produces a vineyard-designated Champagne from old ungrafted Pinot Meunier vines from 0.49 ha in this site (where there are also 0.42 ha Pinot Noir). The first vintage was 2006.
  • Les Couarres is located southwest of the village and is characterised by chalky sand soils on clay and rocks. At least in the most recent vintages (including 2006), Chartogne-Taillet’s regular vintage Champagne has been produced from 1.35 ha (0.85 ha Pinot Noir and 0.5 ha Chardonnay) in this site.
  • Les Heurtebise is located southsouthwest of the village and is characterised by sand soils on clayey sand, clay, and sandstone. Chartogne-Taillet produces a vineyard-designated Champagne from Chardonnay from 1.07 ha in this site. The first vintage was 2007.
  • Les Orizeaux is located to the south of the village and is characterised mostly by sand soils on chalk 1.6 meters down. Chartogne-Taillet has 0.55 ha old vine Pinot Noir in the vineyard, which partly is used for a vintage-designated Champagne and partly for the cuvée Fiacre. The first vintage of Orizeaux was 2007.

Monument in Merfy over the French Resistance in WWII, with vineyards in the background. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Garitan, 2012).

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.

  • Mérat-Talon (ND), has a connection to Luc Mérat (below).

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.

  • Chartogne-Taillet (RM) is a high-class producer with 11 ha of vineyards, where 3 of 13 plots also contain ungrafted vines that don’t succumb to the wine louse thanks to the sandy soils in Merfy. Alexandre Chartogne took over the domaine from his parents in 2006. Already earlier, Chartogne-Taillet was a good quality producer, but Alexandre has changed Chartogne-Taillet to one of the high-class modern small growers. He has e.g. introduced several vineyard-designated wines from vineyard sites in Merfy, all of the varietal Champagnes. The first of these was Les Barres, from ungrafted old vines Pinot Meunier, produced from the 2006 vintage. This has then been followed by  Orizeaux (Pinot Noir, from 2007), Heurtebises (Chardonnay, from 2007), Alliées (Pinot Meunier, from 2007?), and Chemin de Reims (Chardonnay, from 2008?). The village cuvée is called Sainte Anne and originates from various vineyard plots. The better of the two non-vineyard designated vintage Champagnes is called  Fiacre (named after Fiacre Taillet, born 1700), has a higher proportion of Chardonnay than the regular vintage Champagne, and was also produced by Alexandre’s parents. Some of the vineyard-designated Chmpagnes (at least Les Barres and Orizeaux) are oaked, while the other are produced in steel tanks, in some cases also in egg-shaped concrete tanks. I have so far (2015) not seen a release that includes the unusual grape variety Arbanne, that Chartogne-Taillet also has in their vineyards. Below a video from a visit (2013) at Chartogne-Taillet:

  • Marc Lemoine (RC)
  • Thierry Lemoine
  • Yves Lemoine (RC), has 3.6 ha of vineyards in Merfy, Saint-Thierry, Chenay, and Hermonville.
  • Lemoine-Billet (RC)
  • Luc Mérat (RC?), has 8 ha of vineyards. Has a connection to Mérat-Talon above.
  • Prévoteau-Hiernard (RC)

Comment: It is not certain that the list is complete.

Place du Souvenir in Merfy, with a monument to those of the village who fell in World War I. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Garitan 2012).

 Links

© Tomas Eriksson 2015, last update 2015-09-10

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