Champagne village profile: Pierry, a premier cru just south of Épernay

Diagram Pierry 201506Key facts

Located in: Vallée de la Marne: Côteaux Sud d’Épernay
Vineyards and grape varieties: 109.4 hectares, of which 50% Pinot Meunier, 32% Chardonnay, and 18% Pinot Noir.
Classification: Premier cru (90%)
Noted for: the only premier cru village in its area; the village where the Benedictine brother Jean Oudart was active.

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


Google Maps view with all the villages in the Côteaux Sud d’Épernay area highlighted. Pierry is in yellow as the premier cru village of the area, and the other villages are shown in orange.

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

Neighbouring villages

North: Épernay
East: Chouilly, grand cru (part of the Côte des Blancs)
Southeast: Cuis, premier cru (part of the Côte des Blancs)
South: Monthelon
Southwest and west: Moussy

The town hall (mairie) in Pierry. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Animationspierry, 2007).

The village

Pierry is located immediately to the south of Épernay, and has grown together with the southern parts of Épernay. The village is located at the foot of the slope where the vineyards are located. The stream Le Cubry, which forms the valley that continues to the west, run just below the village and empties into the Marne river at Épernay. The stream Le Darcy, which forms the valley to the southsoutheast (around Grauves), empties in Le Cubry at Pierry.

The Château de la Marquetterie can be found in Pierry, in the direction of the slope. The château counts its history back to 1734 and was bought in 1932 by Pierre Taittinger, the same year he started his Champagne house in Reims. The previous owner was the Champagne house Forest-Fourneaux. Château de la Marquetterie is still used by Taittinger for hospitality.

Château de la Marquetterie, in the top right-hand side of the picture, surrounded by vineyards on the slopes above Pierry. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo G.Garitan, 2012).

The Château de Pierry, which is owned by Champagne producer Paul Gobillard, rents out halls for conferences and parties. Another château in the village, Château Les Aulnois, is run as a hotel.

The cookie producer Fossier from Reims, a source of the locally well-known pink biscuits, has a shop in Pierry.

The Pierry commune covers 516 hectares and has 1179 inhabitants (as of 2013), referred to as Pierritiers and Pierritières.

Jean Oudart and the Benedictines in Pierry

Jean Oudart’s tomb in the church in Pierry, with a more contemporary stone. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Animationspierry, 2012)

Jean Oudart (1654-1742) was a Benedictine brother who was active in Pierry from 1679 to his death, and who was a prominent winemaker. This means he was a contemporary of Dom Pierre Pérignon (1638/9-1715) in Hautvillers and Dom Thierry Ruinart (1657-1709), who also were Benedictines. In more recent times, Jean Oudart have sometimes been referred to as “Dom Oudart”, but since he was a lay brother (frère convert) he wasn’t a priest, and therefore the honorific “Dom” should not be used for him. Frère Oudart, on the other hand, is correct.

That the wines of Oudart were highly appreciated is shown by the fact that in the year 1700, the wines from Pierry and Hautvillers fetched twice prices in Paris compared to other good wine from the region: 800-980 livres per queue (approx. 400 liters) versus 400-550 for those deemed bons or plus excellents, 300 for those deemed médiocrement bons qui sont pourtant bons and 150-200 for those below that level. The most sought-after Pierry wine was that from the vineyard Le Clos Saint-Pierre.

The Pierry property and the surrounding vineyards were owned by the Abbaye de Saint-Pierre-aux-Monts, a monastery in Châlons-en-Champagne. There wasn’t any independent monastery in Pierry, but rather an abbey-owned farming property producing wine. The vineyards were located in Pierry, Chouilly, Avize, Cramant, and Épernay.

Following the French Revolution, when the French state confiscated all church property, the Benedictine house in Pierry was sold. In 1999, this building was bought by the Pierry commune.

The Benedictine house in Pierry with its garden. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Animationspierry, 2013).

Vineyards

The vineyards in Pierry are located on the slopes to the west of Épernay, and mostly consist of southeast-facing slopes. Pinot Meunier is the most common grape variety. The vineyards are continuous with those of Épernay and Moussy.

The current vineyard surface in the Pierry commune is 109.4 hectares (270.3 acres). There are 54.7 ha Pinot Meunier (50%), 35.1 ha Chardonnay (32.1%), and 19.6 ha Pinot Noir (17.9%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was also 109 ha. There are 125 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Champagne houses that use vineyards in the village include Taittinger.

The premier cru status

On the now-defunct échelle des crus, Pierry was rated 90%, which has made it to a premier cru village. It is the only village in the Côteaux Sud d’Épernay that is classified premier cru. Its three neighbouring communes in the same area were rated 88%. It was reasonably the homogenous slope of the vineyards, in a wider part of the valley, that resulted in Pierry being rated slightly higher than its neighbours. Possibly the soils contributed as well; a local saying is Pierry est pierreux, “Pierry is stony”.

Single vineyard sites

Single vineyard sites in Pierry include Cantuel, Les Chevernets, Les Gayères, Les Gouttes d’Or, Les Noues, Les Porgeons, Les Rouges Fosses, and Les Tartières.

The stream Le Cubry in the Parc du Ru in Pierry. This stream forms the valley and the slopes that are planted with vineyards in Pierry and the surrounding villages. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo G.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.

  • A. Bagnost (NM), were A is for Arnaud.
  • Barthelemy, has 12 ha of vineyards. Used to be located in Taissy, but is is Pierry since July 2013.
  • Bouché Père & Fils (NM), has 30 ha of vineyards in nine villages. The top Champagne is the non-vintage Cuvée Saphir, with a majority of Chardonnay.
    History
    The producer was founded in 1920 by Abel Bouché, but only in 1945 did they start to vinify and sell their own Champagne, on the initiative of the son Pierre.
  • Paul Gobillard (NM), a producer located in the Château de Pierry and which is a part of the Groupe Thiénot. On more recent bottles, the producer is indicated to be the Thienot company Société de Vieillissement des Vins de Champagne in Reims.
    History
    Paul Gobillard started to produce Champagnes under his own name in 1941, and the house has later been bought by Alain Thiénot.
  • Michel Lenique (NM), formerly Lenique & Fils, has 9.3 ha of vineyards in e.g. Vincelles, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, and Épernay.
  • Mandois (NM), formerly Henri Mandois, is a medium-sized Champagne house. Mandois has 35 ha of vineyards in 12 villages, mostly in the Épernay area, Côte des Blancs, and Sézannais with 70% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir, and 15% Pinot Meunier. Their own vineyards are sufficient for 70% of the production, which is a high proportion among the Champagne houses. Two vintage Champagnes are part of their “Collection 1735”, including a blanc de blanc that usually receives positive reviews and has been awarded. Their “Collection Unique” consist of the vintage Cuvée Victor from old vines, partly vinified in oak, and Le Clos (also called Clos Mandois) from a 1.5 ha (3.7 acres) wall-enclosed vineyard in Pierry planted with Pinot Meunier, which is fully oaked. A presention video made by the producer can be found below.
    History
    Victor Mandois (b. 1842) started to produce Champagne in Épernay in 1860 (although the Mandois family counts their history as vineyard owners back to 1735), and in 1906 the house was moved to Pierry by Auguste Mandois.

    The Champagnes are also sold under the brands:

    • Comte De La Rochefoucauld
    • Gastin Dericbourg
    • Hervé Malraud

  • Vollereaux (NM), a Champagne house with 40 ha of vineyards, mostly in the Épernay area. The top Champagne is called Cuvée Marguerite and consists of 75% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Noir (refers to the 2007 and 2008 vintages).
    History
    Victor Vollereaux started to produce his own Champagnes in small scale in 1923, but came from a family that owned vineyards in Pierry and Moussy since 1805.

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. Smaller producers with unknown status are placed under this heading.

  • DS, which stands for Dunoyer de Segonzac, has 3.1 ha of vineyards, including Pinot Noir from Mareuil-sur-Aÿ and vineyards in the Épernay areas with 85% Chardonnay. Also has a company address in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ.
    History
    This producer started when Mauricette Mordant and Philippe Dunoyer de Segonzac (who since 1985 was active in Bordeaux) bought a smaller producer in Pierry in early 2009.
  • Bruno Gobillard (RM)
  • Lagache (RM), has 12 ha of vineyards in 10 different villages, including Chavot, Chouilly, Épernay, and Pierry. The range includes three vintage Champagnes: Cuvée Millésime Prestige (grand cru, with a majority of Chardonnay), Cuvée Millésime Veuve Prévost (majority of Pinot Noir), as well as Prestige des 3 Demoiselles (majority of Chardonnay) that is only sold in transparent magnums, of which a special version is decorated with some Swarovski crystals. Not to be confused with Jean Lagache in Œuilly.
    History
    The producer was founded in 1959 under the name Gilbert Lagache by Gilbert and Monique Lagache.
  • Bruno Michel (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants (presentation page there), with 13 ha of vineyards in Pierry and Moussy with 50% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Meunier, and 5% Pinot Noir. Started to practice organic cultivation in 1997, was certified by Ecocert in 2004, and has converted some vineyards to biodynamical cultivation. Partly uses oak barrels. In the single vineyard site Les Roses, Bruno Michel has a 0.12 ha plot with old vine Pinot Meunier planted en foule, i.e., old-style high density plantation, and it is used for the rosé Champagne Lieux-Dit Les Roses.
    History
    Bruno Michel started his production in 1980, and is son of José Michel, who since 1955 is a Champagne producer in the neighbouring village Moussy.
  • Guy Michel & Fils (RM), has 22 ha of vineyards with 50% Pinot Meunier, 35% Chardonnay, and 15% Pinot Noir.
    History
    Guy Michel started his production 1959.
  • Paul Pothelet (RM), which has several cuvées with different animal motifs covering all of the bottle.
  • Jean Sélèque (RM), has 5.15 ha of vineyards in four communes – Moussy, Pierry, Épernay, and Boursault – med 50% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Meunier, and 10% Pinot Noir. The vintage Champagne is called Comédie. On the back label, there is an exemplary amount of detail regarding grape varieties, vineyards of origin, base vintage, and disgorgement. Not to be confused with J-M Sélèque below.
    History
    The two Sélèque-producenterna (Jean and J-M below) had a common history until 2008, going back on Henri Sélèque. He planted his first own vineyards 1965/66, assisted by his father-in-law Jean Bagnost, the village mayor and one of the founders of the Pierry cooperative. The label says “depuis 1969”, which should be when the vineyards started to produce harvests. The sons Richard and Jean started to work in the family company in 1974. Henri Sélèque died in 1995, and in 2008 was divided into two parts: Jean’s daughter Nathalie is behind this part, and Richard’s son Jean-Marc Sélèque is behind the J-M part (below). The name Jean Sélèque started to be be used on this part in 2013. Before the division into two, the name seems to have been simply Sélèque. The vintage cuvée Comédie started to be produced when Henri Sélèque died, and can today be found in the ranges of both producers.
  • J-M Sélèque (RM), where J-M is for Jean-Marc. Has 7.5 ha of vineyards in seven communes: 1.9 ha in Pierry, 1.5 ha in Moussy, 1.1 ha in Épernay, 1 ha in Vertus, 1 ha in Boursault, 0.7 ha in Mardeuil, and 0.3 ha in Dizy. The vineyards contain 60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Meunier, and 10% Pinot Noir. About 30% of the production is vinified in oak barrels of different sizes, and all cuvées contain a certain proportion of oaked base wine. The two vintage Champagnes are Cuvée Comédie (Chardonnay-dominated and partly oaked) and Cuvée Partition, which is produced from seven selected barrels (the name refers to seven musical notes) and is Chardonnay-dominated (five of seven barrels in the 2008 vintage). On the back label, there is an exemplary amount of detail regarding grape varieties, base vintage, and disgorgement. Not to be confused with Jean Sélèque above.
    History
    See Jean Sélèque above for the common Sélèque history until 2008. Jean-Marc Sélèque took over one part of the family property in 2008, while his cousin Nathalie took over the other part.

Comment: the list may not be complete.

Cooperatives

Producer status CM = Coopérative de manipulation, a cooperative that sells Champagnes produced from the members’ grapes, often under a brand owned by the cooperative.

The world’s largest champagne flute is on display at the cooperative in Pierry. Its height is 2.13 meters and the volume 117 liters. The picture is linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Cellierspierry, 2013).

  • Union Vinicole des Coteaux d’Epernay (CM), or U.V.C.E, and sometimes called Les Celliers de Pierry, is a cooperative in Pierry founded in 1956. Today (2015), the cooperative has over 240 members with 85 ha of vineyards in Pierry and Moussy with surroundings, of which 55% Pinot Meunier, 25% Chardonnay, and 20% Pinot Noir. Their winery was modernised in 2007. The Champagnes are sold under the brand:

Links

© Tomas Eriksson 2015, last update 2016-04-24

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