Champagne village profile: Cuis, a premier cru in the Côte des Blancs

Diagram Cuis 201510Key facts

Located in subregion/area: Côte des Blancs / Côte des Blancs
Vineyards and grape varieties: 176.0 hectares (434.9 acres), of which 96.2% Chardonnay, 3.5% Pinot Meunier, and 0.1% Pinot Noir.
Classification: Premier cru (95%)
Noted for: Chardonnay from premier cru-classified vineyards.

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, and green indicates forest.


Google Maps view with the villages in the Côte des Blancs highlighted. The grand cru villages are shown in green, and the premier cru villages, including Cuis, in yellow.

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

Neighbouring villages

East: Chouilly, grand cru
Southeast: Cramant, grand cru
South: Grauves, premier cru
Southwest: Mancy (part of the Côteaux Sud d’Épernay)
West: Monthelon (part of the Côteaux Sud d’Épernay)
Northwest: Pierry, premier cru (part of the Côteaux Sud d’Épernay)

Cuis with the church in the foreground. The picture is taken from the hill south of the village with the camera directed northwest. The vineyard-clad slopes in the background are located in Pierry and Moussy. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo October Ends, 2011).

The village

Cuis is located southsoutheast of Épernay, in the northern part of the Côte des Blancs “heartland”. The village is situated just below the vineyeards on the northern part of the slope, as well as along the D10 road that runs from Épernay to most of the other Côte de Blancs villages.

The Cuis commune covers 827 hectares and has 408 inhabitants (as of 2012), referred to as Cuitats and Cuitates.

The town hall (mairie) of Cuis. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Garitan, 2012).

Vineyards

The vineyards in Cuis are primarily located around the northern part of the small forested area above the genuine Côte des Blancs slope. The slopes in these vineyards are from northeast- via north- to west-facing. Other than that, there are some vineyards just north of the village, partly on flatter ground and partly close to the small forested area between Cramant and Chouilly. Chardonnay dominates greatly in the vineyards.

The current vineyard surface in the Cuis commune is 176.0 hectares (434.9 acres). There are 169.4 ha Chardonnay (96.3%), 6.2 ha Pinot Meunier (3.5%), 0.1 ha Pinot Noir (0.1%), and 0.3 ha others (0.2%) Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was also 17 ha. There are 98 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Single vineyard sites

Single vineyard sites in Cuis includes Basses Vignes, Blancs Chiens, Bourgs, Croix Blanche, and Les Roualles.

Champagne style

Grapes from Cuis often give slightly lighter blanc de blancs Champagner than those from the nearby grand cru villages, not in the least due to the more-or-less north-facing slopes, and the level of acidity tends to be quite high. Properly used, this style can give firm Champagnes where the minerality comes to the fore even more than usual, and “aperitif Champagnes” of the elegant kind. This “lightness” probably explains why it is less common to find oaked Cuis-only Champagnes compared to oaked versions from the grand cru villages.

The premier cru status

On the now defunct échelle des crus scale, where 100% = grand cru and 90-99% = premier cru, a smaller number of villages had different numbers for white and black grapes, i.e., for Chardonnay and for Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Cuis was one of them, with 95% for white grapes and 90% for black grapes, which in both cases meant premier cru status. Cuis has kept this premier cru following the abolishment of the échelle des crus, just like other villages that achieved it.

The church in Cuis. 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.

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.

  • Thierry Bournault (RM, Facebook page) has 4.5 ha of vineyards and started to produce under the own brand in 2004.
  • Jean Gimonnet (RM), also written Gimonnet Jean, member of Vignerons Indépendants.
  • Pierre Gimonnet & Fils (RM), a good Special Club producer with 28 ha of vineyards, all Chardonnay in the Côte des Blancs, 14 ha in Cuis, 11 ha in Cramant and Chouilly, 1 ha in Oger and 2 ha in Vertus. The annual production is 250 000 bottles. Vinification takes place in tanks, without the use of oak barrels, and the reserve wines are stored in bottles (under a light pressure). True to the Cuis standard, the style of the Champagnes tends to be light rather than heavyweight, and also elegant and mineral-driven. The range includes several vintage Champagnes from 100% Chardonnay in different styles: Gastronome, which is intended to be fresh and is sold the youngest (usually after just the minimal time on the lees, three years), Fleuron, which is more “vinous” and is produced in the largest quantity of the vintage wines, and Œnophile which is produced without dosage. Special Club originates mostly from Cramant and old vines. Current (as of 2015) and future Special Club vintages include 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2008. Some particularly good vintages are sold as Millésime de Collection, often (e.g. the 2005) only in magnum, but exceptionally (most recently the 2002) as an add-on designation for the Special Club, and then also in 75 cl bottles. The non-vintage Rosé de Blanc is rather new in the range and is a rosé that contains about 6-10% Pinot Noir from Bouzy. They also sell Champagnes under the brand Gimonnet-Henry.
    History
    Pierre Gimonnet started to vinify hos own wines in the 1930s. His son Michel Gimonnet (d. 2008) was active from 1955 and retired in 1996. Since then, his sons Olivier and Didier Gimonnet have run the company. Some of the vineyards come from Larmandier Père et Fils (see below), that Gimonnet took over via Françoise Larmandier, Olivier’s and Didier’s mother. 8 ha vineyards were included.

    Below a general presentation video about Pierre Gimonnet (French audio, English subtitles) followed by another about their vintage Champagnes:

  • Gimonnet-Oger (RM), which seems to sell their Champagnes with rather high age.
  • Camille Grellet (RM)
  • Dominique Grellet (RM)
  • Larmandier Père et Fils (RM), a Special Club producer with vineyards primarily in Cramant, Chouilly, and Cuis. The annual production is 20 000 bottles. In principle run as a brand of Pierre Gimonnet & Fils. The range consists of two vintage-designated 100% Chardonnay: Perlé de Larmandier, a premier cru, Special Club, a grand cru from Cramant and Chouilly. Current (as of 2015) and future Special Club vintages include 2005, 2006, and 2008.
    History
    The original Larmandier Père et Fils has been divided on four siblings: the brother Guy started Guy Larmandier in Vertus, Philippe started Larmandier-Bernier in Vertus, a sister married a Waris and created Wair-Larmandier in Avize, and the sister Françoise Larmandier has kept the name Larmandier Père et Fils, but was married Michel Gimonnet who were behind Pierre Gimonnet & Fils. A smaller part of the 8 ha Larmandier vineyards that have ended up with Gimonnet are still (2015) used for production of Champagne under the name Larmandier Père et Fils.
  • Laurent Robert (RC)
  • Marie-Le Brun (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants with 4 ha Chardonnay in different premier cru and grand cru villages in the Côte des Blancs. The range includes a  vintage blanc de blancs.
  • Didier Michel (RM), which has about 70% of the vineyard holding in Cuis and about 30% in the grand cru villages Chouilly and Cramant. The range includes a vintage blanc de blancs.
  • Paul Michel (RM)
  • Patrice Miraux (RC)
  • Benoit Munier (RC), has vineyards in Avize, Cramant, Chouilly, and Oger.
  • Daniel Robert (RC)
  • Jean-Claude Vallois (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants. The range includes a vintage blanc de blancs.

Comment: the list may not be complete.

Cooperatives

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 Cuis is a cooperative in Cuis founded in 1947. The Champagnes are sold under the brand:

Links

© Tomas Eriksson 2015, last update 2017-02-26

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