Champagne village profile: Chouilly, a grand cru in the Côte des Blancs

Diagram Chouilly 201508Key facts

Located in subregion/area: Côte des Blancs / Côte des Blancs
Vineyards and grape varieties: 522.5 hectares (1291.1 acres), of which 98.7% Chardonnay, 0.9% Pinot Noir, and 0.4% Pinot Meunier.

Classification: Grand cru (100%), used to be a grand cru for white grapes only and premier cru (95%) for black grapes.
Noted for: Chardonnay from grand cru-classified vineyards, home village for the large Nicolas Feuillatte facility.

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

On the same side of Marne
East: Oiry, grand cru
South: Cramant, grand cru
Southwest: Cuis, premier cru
Westsouthwest: Pierry, premier cru
Westnorthwest: Épernay (part of the Côteaux Sud d’Épernay)

On the opposite side of Marne
Northnorthwest: Aÿ, grand cru (part of the Grande Vallée de la Marne)
Northnortheast: Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, premier cru (part of the Grande Vallée de la Marne)
Comment: some of the communes on the map, on the flatlands to the east, are not part of the Champagne appellation and therefore don’t have any village profiles.

The town hall (mairie, to the right in the picture) and the post office in Chouilly. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo G.Garitan, 2012).

The village

Chouilly is located immediately to the east of Épernay and just south of Marne, at the stream Les Tarnauds. Those that continue east on the Avenue de Champagne from Épernay will after a while ending up in Chouilly.

Locally, Chouilly is associated with geese, that often can be seen at Les Tarnauds.

The Chouilly commune covers 1612 hectares and has 1005 inhabitants (as of 2012) that “more officially” are referred to as chouillats and chouillates. Due to the village’s association with geese, the alternative names bilots and oies are also heard.

In Chouilly we find Le Jardin de Vignes, a small park that shows up and explains various things related to the vineyards of Champagne, such as vine training methods and grape varieties.

The hill Butte du Saran is located in the southern part of the commune. Near the hill we find the palace Château de Saran, which is owned by Moët & Chandon. It was built in 1801 by Jean-Remy Moët and was extended in 1846 by Victor Moët to its present size. In 1952, the palace was willed to the Auban-Moët hospital in Épernay to be used as a convalescent or retirement home. Since the property turned out to be unfit for this purpose, the hospital sold the château to Moët & Chandon in February 1954. Since then, Château de Saran is used for hospitality purposes.

Vineyards in Chouilly with Butte du Saran in the background. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Sand~commonswiki, 2006).

Vineyards

The vineyards in Chouilly are partly located in the western part of the commune, and partly in the southern part of the commune. Those in the western part are continuous with those in Épernay, and are located on the eastern side of the hill Mont Bernon. The vineyards in the southern part are continuous with those in Oiry, Cramant, and Cuis, and include vineyards all they way around Butte du Saran. This means that the directions of the slopes vary between different parts of the commune. The vineyards contain almost exclusively Chardonnay.

The current vineyard surface in the Chouilly commune is 522.5 hectares (1291.1 acres). There are 515.9 ha Chardonnay (98.7%), 4.5 ha Pinot Noir (0.9%), 1.9 ha Pinot Meunier (0.4%), and 0.2 ha others (<0.1%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 508 ha. There are 213 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Single vineyard sites

  • Les Aventures, which is located slightly north of the Butte du Saran. From here, A.R. Lenoble in Damery (which has a plot of 0.5 ha here) produces a non-vintage vineyard-designated Champagne from 100% Chardonnay. It was launched in in 1999 (then as a blend of 1990, 1995, and 1996) and is supposed to have been the first vineyard-designated Champagne from Chouilly.
  • Mont Aigu, from which Jack Legras produces a vineyard-designated non-vintage blanc de blancs. Chardonnay from this vineyard site is included in cuvées from e.g. Michel Genet and Pierre Gimonnet (in Cuis).
  • Les Partelaines, from which Pierre Legras produces their vintage-dated blanc de blancs and Marcel Moineaux their Cuvée Prestige.
  • Les Prêtrosses, which is located slightly north of the Butte du Saran. From here, Veuve J. Lanaud in Avize produces a vineyard-designated blanc de blancs.

Other single vineyard sites in Chouilly include Ronds Buissons and Le Vallon.

Moët & Chandon has produced special wines using Chardonnay from their Saran property in Chouilly at different occasions. In former times, a still Chardonnay wine, i.e., a Coteaux Champenois Blanc de Blancs, was produced under the namne Saran and using a “Dom Pérignon-like” label (but black with gold letters). Later, but now rather many years ago, Les Vignes de Saran was included as the Chardonnay in the box La Trilogie des Grands Crus, which contained three varietal Champagnes from three different grand cru villages, where the Pinot Noir was from Aÿ and the Pinot Meunier from Sillery.

Champagne style

Champagnes from Chouilly are usually said to be of a rather “rich” style with buttery notes or aromas of tropical fruit, and with less intense mineral character than the grand cru neighbours to the south. It may be noted that the vineyards in Chouilly are less uniform in slope and direction that those in e.g. Avize, Oger, and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Therefore, it may be a bit more difficult to make generalised statements about the Chouilly style than the styles from those villages.

Formerly a grand cru for Chardonnay only

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. Chouilly was one of them, with 100% for white grapes, meaning grand cru, and 95% for black grapes, meaning premier cru. Following the formal abolishment of the échelle des crus in 2010, the villages that achieved grand cru or premier cru status has kept this status. However, no difference is longer made between different grape varieties, so the highest status is retained. This means that Chouilly is nowadays a grand cru village with no restrictions as to grape varieties.

In older times, Chouilly was a premier cru village, and was promoted to its grand cru status (or to be more specific, its mixed grand cru/premier cru status) in 1985, together with Oger, Oiry, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, and Verzy.

Overview of the village with vineyards in the background. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Sand~commonswiki, 2006).

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.

  • M. Hostomme (NM), a Champagne house with 13 ha of their own vineyards that buys in grapes from another 8 ha, including vineyards owned by relatives. They have several different vintage Champagnes: the regular Millésime which is a blanc de blancs, Cuvée Mélodie which is also a 100% Chardonnay and vinified in oak, and Cuvée Harmonie composed of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir (refers to the 2005 where) with the Chardonnay component vinified in oak. The also produces some Champagnes under special brands: in 2013 they launched Cuvée Spéciale Hello Kitty, a rosé demi-sec from 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier, and 20% Chardonnay. Hostomme has also produced the own Champagnes for Harrods (classed MA, marque d’acheteur) as well as Fortnum and Mason.
  • Fred Legras (NM)
  • Pierre Legras (NM), has 10 ha of vineyards (8.5 ha according to another source), of which 7 ha in Chouilly. The regular vintage Champagnes is composed of 75% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Noir (refers to the 2004 vintage), of which 20% is vinified in oak. The vintage blanc de blanc comes from the vineyard site Les Partelaines (refers to the 2006 vintage), of which 25% is vinified in oak.
  • R&L Legras (NM), has 13 ha of vineyards. The range includes three different vintage-dated 100% Chardonnays. Presidence is the “regular” vintage Champagne and comes from Chouilly vineyards. Saint-Vincent is sourced from old vines in Chouilly, and is sold with more age. The first vintage was 1964, and it was followed by 1969, 1971, 1973, 1976, 1981, 1983, 1988, 1990, 1996, and 2000 (as of 2015). Evanescence is sold in a clear bottle and is the most expensive of the three.
  • Legras & Haas (NM), a Champagne house founded in 1991 with 14 ha in Chouilly and a small holding in Aÿ. All vinification takes place in steel tanks. The vintage Champahne is a blanc de blancs. The top cuvée is called Exigence, consists of 50% Chardonnay from Chouilly and 50% Pinot Noir from Aÿ, and is produced in a solera that was started in the 1996 vintage. The different Exigence batches have been given numbers  and different coloured labels.
    A blog post with a tasting of two Champagnes from Legras & Haas in October 2015.

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.

  • Cyrill Banchet, also has an address in Avize.
  • L & F Boyer (RM)
  • Broquet-Gabriel
  • Broquet-Melbeck
  • Roland Champion (RM), a Special Club producer with 18 ha vineyards in Chouilly and Verneuil, of which 70% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Meunier, and 10% Pinot Noir. The annual production is 85 000 bottles. Carte Noire is the regular vintage Champagne, a 100% Chardonnay. Special Club is also a 100% Chardonnay. Current vintage (as of 2015) is 2007. Upcoming vintages are 2008, 2010, and 2011.
  • Stéphane Coquillette (RM), also written S. Coquillette, a member of the Vignerons Indépendants with 6 ha of vineyards in Chouilly and Cuis (Chardonnay) as well as Aÿ and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ (Pinot Noir). The vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs.
  • Ph. Daviaux-Quinet (RM), where Ph. is for Philippe.
  • Debas-Comin (RM), with an annual production of 10 000 bottles, whose vintage Champagne is called Cuvée Saphir.
  • Gauthier-Christophe, formerly Gauthier-Christophe Père & Fils. Cuvée Mathilde is a non-vintage blanc de blancs that sees oak.
  • Claude Genet (RM)
  • Michel Genet (RM), has 9 ha of vineyards, of which 7.6 ha of Chardonnay (7 ha grand cru in Chouilly and Cramant) and 1.4 ha of Pinot Noir. The annual production is 80 000 bottles. The vintage Champagne is called Prestige de la Cave and is a 100% Chardonnay from old vines in the vineyard sites Les Partelaines and Mont Aigu (refers to 2004).
  • René Gué (RM), has 6 ha of vineyards and an annual production of 30 000 bottles.
  • Alain Legras et Fils
  • Dominique Legras (RC), whose vintage Champagne is a 100% Chardonnay.
  • Jack Legras (RM), has 2.4 ha of vineyards and an annual production of 28 000 bottles. The range includes Le Mont-Aigu, a vineyard-designated non-vintage blanc de blancs.
  • Marcel Moineux (RM), has 6.4 ha of vineyards, all in Chouilly and all Chardonnay, so the range only includes a number of blanc de blancs. Cuvée Prestige is sourced from the vineyard site Les Partelaines, where the vines were planted in the end of the 1950s.
  • Ronald Moreau (RM)
  • Thomas Pavy
  • Francis Pétret (RM), which is produced by Sylvie Martinval.
  • Robillot Lagache (RC), whose vintage Champagne is composed of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir (refers to the 2005 vintage).
  • Saint-Chamant (RM), which is produced by Christian Coquillette, is a member of the Vignerons Indépendants, and has just over 11 ha of vineyards. They also have an address in Épernay, where the cellar is located.
  • Simart-Moreau (RM), has 4.7 ha of vineyards: 3.6 ha Chardonnay in Chouilly and Cramant, as well as 1.1 ha Pinot, of which 0.4 ha Pinot Noir in Aÿ and a total of 0.7 ha in Avenay-Val-d’Or and Hautvillers. Cuvée des Crayères is a 100% Chardonnay vintage Champagne.
  • Simonnet-Godin (RC?)
  • Tripet-Triolet (RM)
  • Vallois-Petret
  • René Vazart (RM)
  • Vazart-Coquart utsida 20141025Vazart-Coquart & Fils (RM), a Special Club producer and member of the Vignerons Indépendants with 11 ha vineyards in Chouilly, with 95% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Noir. The annual production is 80 000 bottles. Grand Bouquet is the regular vintage Champagne, a blanc de blancs. Special Club is a 100% Chardonnay. The current vintage (as of 2015) is 2007. Upcomig vintages are 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012. Spécial Foie Gras is a non-vintage blanc de blancs Sec (i.e. off-dry) with more notes of maturity, intended for e.g. foie gras.
  • Vazart-Prioux (RM)
  • Voirin-Desmoulins (RM), has 9 ha of vineyards in Chouilly, Verneuil, Mont-Saint-Père, and Gland, of which 3.5 ha Pinot Noir, 3 ha Chardonnay, and 2.5 ha Pinot Meunier. The annual production is 75 000 bottles. The vintage Champagne is called Cuvée Prestige and is a 100% Chardonnay from Chouilly.
  • Michel Vol (RM)

http://www.pagesjaunes.fr/annuaire/chouilly-51/champagne nr. 1-17

Comment: the list may not be complete.

Cooperatives

  • Nicolas Feuillatte, or Centre Vinicole-Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte (CV-CNF) using the complete name, is the largest cooperative in the Champagne wine region and has its main facility in Chouilly. Nicolas Feuillatte is a cooperative that consists of 82 village cooperatives with a total of more than 5000 members with 2110 ha (5214 acres) of vineyards (as of 2014) between them, with 50% Pinot Meunier, 25% Pinot Noir, and 25% Chardonnay. Grapes are sourced from vineyards in 13 of the 17 grand cru and 33 of the 42 premier cru villages. To a large extent, the local cooperatives function as press houses (a total of close to 350 presses are part of the organisation) that send on the grape must to the central facility in Chouilly, where it is processed to Champagne. Some of the grape material is sold on to other Champagne houses. Nicolas Feuillatte is the third-largest Champagne brand (behind #1 Moët & Chandon and #2 Veuve Clicquot and just ahead of #4 G.H. Mumm) with sales of 10.66 million bottles in 2014. The total sales of CV-CNF in 2014 (including other brands) was 11.1 million bottles, and in the same year, 19.5 million bottles were filled, which includes those taken back by the village cooperatives or members-growers to be sold under their own names. For a long time, Nicolas Feuillatte has expanded in sales, and increased 19% by volume from 2007 (just before the financial crisis) to 2014, despite a decrease in 3% of the global Champagne market in this period. In 2000, the sales were 4.65 million bottles. On the French market, Nicolas Feuillatte is nowadays #1 by volume, and their market penetration at home is to a large extent built on sales via supermarket chains. Nicolas Feuillatte is positioned as something of a mid-price Champagne, selling at a higher price than those from the cheapest cooperatives, but lower than those from the most well-known (non-cooperative) Champagne houses. The range is extensive, and in its upper parts we find e.g. the oaked and vintage-dated Cuvée 225, which also exists in a rosé version. The prestige Champagnen is called Palmes d’Or and also exists in a rosé version. Sometimes Nicolas Feuillatte has sold a set of vintage Champagnes from one village each (monocrus); when they were launched in the early 2000s they were of the 1995 vintage.
    History
    Nicolas Feuillatte (1925-2014) created a fortune in the coffee business, by predicting the expanding market for instant coffee in the USA following World War II. He started his Champagne career in 1976 by buying the Domaine de Bouleuse in Bouleuse, which had 12 ha of vineyards, and there he produced Champagnes under his own name. In 1986 he sold his brand to the cooperative Centre Vinicole de Champagne (CVC), which had been founded in 1972. CVC was started on the initiative by the Syndicat Général des Vignerons and the Fédération des Coopératives since there was insufficient storage capacity following the abundant 1970 harvest. The activities were soon expanded from vinification and storage to also include filling of bottles. Since then, the expansive cooperative has used this name for all their Champagnes. The steady growth of CV-CNF with new members and new member cooperatives can be seen from the increasing vineyard surface: from 1218 ha in 1990 to 2110 ha in 2014.
    Member cooperatives (not an exhaustive list)
    Aulnois, Baye-Talus, Boursault, Chigny-les-Roses, Cormicy, Fleury-la-Rivière, Grauves, Hautvillers, Jouy-Pargny, Mancy, Meurville, Rilly-la-Montagne, Sermiers, Serzy-et-Prin, Troissy, Vandeuil, Vaudemange, Venteuil, Verneuil (Saint-Vincent), Villevenard, Vinay, Vincelles, as well as another 60.

    Other brands used by CV-CNF:

    • Saint-Maurice

One of the entrances to Chouilly. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Sylvainf, 2006).

Video clip

Pictures from vineyards in Chouilly in connection with the 2012 harvest and an interview (French audio, English subtitles) of Olivier Gimonnet from Pierre Gimonnet & Fils in Cuis:

Links

© Tomas Eriksson 2015, last update 2015-12-30

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