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

Diagram Cramant 201510Key facts

Located in subregion/area: Côte des Blancs / Côte des Blancs
Vineyards and grape varieties: 350.9 hectares, of which 99.9% Chardonnay and 0.1% Pinot Meunier.

Classification: Grand cru (100%)
Noted for: Chardonnay from grand cru-classified vineyards, and a “creamy” and elegant Champagne style.

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, including Cramant, are shown in green, and the premier cru villages in yellow.

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

Neighbouring villages

North: Chouilly, grand cru
East: Oiry, grand cru
South: Avize, grand cru
West: Grauves, premier cru
Northwest: Cuis, premier cru

Cramant as seen from the south. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Szeder László, 2007).

The village

Cramant is located southsoutheast of Épernay, as one of the villages on the “genuine” Côte des Blancs slope. The village itself is located in the middle of the slope, along the D10 road that runs from Épernay to several other Côte de Blancs villages.

The Cramant commune covers 537 hectares and has 889 inhabitants (as of 2012), referred to as Cramantais and Cramantaises.

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

Vineyards

A huge Champagne bottle decorates the northern entrance to Cramant, from the Cuis direction. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo by me, 2011).

The vineyards in Cramant is located around the village. In the vicinity of the village northeast-facing slopes dominate. In the northern part of the commune, just south of the Butte de Saran (a hill in Chouilly), there are some vineyards with southwest- to southeast-facing slopes. In the eastern part of the commune, close to the southern outskirts of Oiry, vineyards are located on rather flat land. The vineyards contain almost exclusively Chardonnay.

The current vineyard surface in the Cramant commune is 350.9 hectares (867.1 acres). There are 350.5 ha Chardonnay (99.9%) and 0.4 ha Pinot Meunier (0.1%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 341 ha. There are 244 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Champagne houses that own vineyards in Cramant include Perrier-Jouët, with 27 ha in the commune, of a total of 65 ha of their own vineyards.

Single vineyard sites

  • Bourons Leroy and Bourons du Midi are two vineyard sites located mid-slope in the northern part of the commune, on the southern side of the Butte de Saran, with south- to southeast-facing slopes. They are used for the unusual blanc de blancs version of the Belle Epoque, the prestige Champagne from Perrier-Jouët (in Épernay).
  • Bourron du Levant is an east-facing site used by Larmandier-Bernier (in Vertus) for their vintage blanc de blancs Vieille Vigne du Levant (ex-Vieille Vigne du Levant), since the 1988 vintage.
  • Chemin de Châlons is located in the southern part of the commune, on rather flat land. Jacques Selosses produces one of their vineyard-designated Champagnes (lieux-dits) from this site, composed of 100% Chardonnay. In similarity to the others, Chemin de Châlons are produced using oxidative oak barrel-treatment in a solera, and is non-vintage. It is one of two lieux-dits (together with Les Chantereines in Avize) that exists in such small quantities that it is only sold in a mixed case consisting of all lieux-dits.

Other single vineyard sites in Cramant include Les Bourons, Briquettes, Buissons, Les Buzons, Clos du Mardu, La Croix, Fond du Bateau, Les Fourches du Midi, Les Gouttes d’Or, Gros Monts, Hautes Bauves, Les Moyens du Couchant.

Below an animated map panning over Cramant with various vineyard names indicated:

Champagne style

Cramant is usually considered to give somewhat “creamier” Champagnes than the other Côte des Blancs villages, and therefore not as “hard” as those of Avize (where there is a higher proportion of pure east-facing slopes), but with more concentration than those from Cuis (where there is a higher proportion of north-facing slopes) and more dominating minerality than those in Chouilly. It can be noted that there is some variation of slope (steepness) and direction in the vineyards of Chouilly, so some sites are likely to deviate from the “standard style”. There are also those that describe the villages differently than the version above, and another version describes the Cramant-style as powerful and the Avize-style as characterised by finesse.

Crémant de Cramant

In former times, there existed a designation called Crémant de Cramant for low pressure Champagnes from Cramant. A classical Crémant was supposed to hold 3,6 atm overpressure, in comparison to up to 6 atm for a fully sparking Champagne. After Crémant in the 1980s came to be a designation for sparkling wines produced using the “Champagne method” in other wine regions, including Alsace, Burgundy, and Loire (after they no longer could use the designation “méthode champenois”), Crémant was removed from Champagne usage in the early 1990s. The wine style itself still exists, though. The most common of those still produced is probably the Mumm de Cramant from the major Champagne house G.H. Mumm of Reims.

Vineyards in Cramant. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Szeder László, 2007).

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.

  • Diebolt-Vallois (NM), a small house of high quality with 11 ha of vineyards, the major part in Cramant and Cuis, but also in Chouilly in Épernay. There are also some Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier in the Montagne de Reims and the Côte des Bar. Prestige is a higher-end Champagne composed of 100% Chardonnay from Cramant, Chouilly, and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, consisting of three vintages where the reserve wines are stored in large oak vats. The regular vintage Champagne is a steel tank-vinified blanc de blancs from Cuis (60%), Chouilly, Épernay, and young vines in Cramant. The prestige Champagne is called Fleur de Passion and is a oak barrel-vinified 100% Chardonnay from old vines (many >60 years old) in 7-8 sites in Cramant, including Les Buzons. One upon a time they were RM, but changed into NM when they started to supplement their production with bought-in grapes.

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.

  • Bertin & Fils
  • Bonnaire (RM), a producer that usually receives good reviews and that has slightly more than 22 ha of vineyards (10 ha in Cramant, 2 ha in Bèrgeres-lès-Vertus, and 10 ha in Fossoy) with mainly Chardonnay. The annual production is about 200 000 bottles. All vinification takes place in steel tanks. The vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs. Ver Sacrum is a non-vintage blanc de blancs that spends at least 6 years on the lees sealed with cork, which is meant to yield discrete oxidation notes without the use of oak barrels. There is a family connection to the producer Paul Clouet in Bouzy.
  • Bonningre-Durand (RM, bottles with RC exists, which seems to be older)
  • William Brun & Fils (RM)
  • Comte Pellerin
  • Courtois-Camus (RC)
  • Crépaux Fils (RM)
  • Crépaux-Courtois
  • Camille Deshautels (RC)
  • Benoît Diot, also called Subtil or just Diot, which is connected to Diot-Legras. Has 1.3 ha of vineyards. Cuvée Subtil is a 100% Chardonnay that is vinified in small oak barrels (114 liters).
  • Diot-Legras (RC), is connected to Benoît Diot. The Diot-Legras range is the more traditional of the two.
  • Fransoret-Filaine (RM)
  • Gaspard-Crépaux (RM), the vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs from old vines in a south-facing slopes.
  • Philippe Glavier (RM), member of Vignerons Indépedants with two vintage Champagne from 100% Chardonnay: Mesnil Émotion from in old vines in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Folie de Cramant which is oak barrel-vinified and originates from Cramant.
  • Guiborat Fils (RM), has 8 ha of vineyards in Cramant, Chouilly, and Mardeuil. The vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs.
  • Huret-Colas (RM), has 4 ha of vineyards in Cramant. The vintage Champagne is a 100% Chardonnay.
  • Eric Isselée (RM), which has two vintage Champagnes that are both 100% Chardonnay: Cuvée Tradition is produced from old vines in two vineyards with best exposure in the slope, and Cuvée Clément which is vinified in oak barrels and is produced from old vines.
  • Lancelot-Courtois (RM)
  • Lancelot-Pienne (RM), has 8.3 ha of vineyards in Côte des Blancs and Vallée de la Marne, and an annual production of 70 000 bottles. The range includes two vintage Champagnes: Cuvée Marie Lancelot is composed of 100% Chardonnay from old vines in Cramant and Cuvée Perceval is composed of 50% Chardonnay from Cramant and 50% Pinot Noir from Monthelon and Boursault (refers to the 2011 vintage).
  • P. Lancelot-Royer (RM), has 5 ha of vineyards in Cramant, Avize, Chouilly, and Oger, and an annual production of 40 000 bottles. The vintage Champagne is a 100% Chardonnay from old vines in Cramant.
  • Lancelot-Wanner
  • Paul Lebrun (RM, also has a blog), which has 16.5 ha of vineyards, of which a large part is in Cramant, but also in the Sézannais area. The vintage Champagne is a 100% Chardonnay. The non-vintage Cuvée Prestige is vinified partly (20%) in oak barrels. There are also bottles with the producer code NM, but these are older. Changes from NM to RM is otherwise less common than changes in the other direction. Since 1984, the company name is Vignier-Lebrun, and the most recent generation consists of siblings Nathalie Vignier (who also has her own activity, see below) and Jean Vignier.
  • Pierre Louis Lesage (RM)
  • Lilbert-Fils (RM), has 3.5 ha of vineyards with only Chardonnay, of which the main part in Cramant, but also in Chouilly and Oiry. Has a reputation to produce slightly tougher Champagnes than the typical Cramant style. The vintage Champagne is a Chardonnay from Cramant. Perle is their former “Crémant de Cramant” with a pressure of 3,5-4 atm, and is produced from old vines and given 1-2 years longer cellaring than their standard Champagnen.
  • Mallol-Gantois (RM), has just under 7 ha in Cramant and Chouilly.
  • Gilbert Morizet (RM), has vineyards in Cramant and Bouzy. The vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs.
  • Marc Morizet
  • Bruno Oyance (RM)
  • Pertois-Lebrun (RM), has 9 ha of vineyards in Cramant, Le Mesnil-Sur-Oger, Chouilly, Oiry, and Oger. The vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs.
  • Petitjean-Liégé
  • Petitjean-Pienne (RM), has 3.5 ha of vineyards of which 2,4 ha in the grand cru villages Cramant, Avize, and Chouilly. The vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs and Cuvée Prestige is a blanc de blancs from two vineyards with old vines, and is oak barrel-vinified.
  • M. Richomme (RM), has vineyards in the grand cru villages  Cramant, Chouilly, Oiry och Avize, samt i Cuis, Passy-Grigny, and Barbonne-Fayel. Cuvée Génération is an oak barrel-vinified vintage Champagne from 100% Chardonnay from old vines.
  • Simon-Michelot (RM)
  • Hubert Soreau produces Clos de l’Abbé, a vineyard-designated and oak barrel-treated 100% Chardonnay from a 0,14 ha plot in Épernay. He works together with Nathalie Vignier.
  • Suenen (RM), which seems to have a change of style in progress since Aurélien Suenen took over in 2008. The vintage Champagne is a 100% Chardonnay. MBDA is a partly oaked special cuvée using 53% Pinot Noir from Montigny-sur-Vesle and 47% Chardonnay from Cramant, Chouilly, and Oiry (refers to the batch bottled in 2012, in case there are several) named for four Champagne-producing generations of Suenens: Marcel, Bernard, Daniel, and Aurélien.
  • Noël Tessier (RM)
  • Nathalie Vignier is of the family behind Paul Le Brun and is active there, but also seems to produce her own Champagnes together with Hubert Soreau, apparently under the name J. Vignier.
  • Voirin-Jumel (RM), has 12 ha of vineyards, mostly in the Côte des Blancs. The vintage Champagne is a 100% Chardonnay (refers to the 2008 vintage) and Cuvée 555 is a non-vintage 100% Chardonnay from the single vineyard site Clos du Mardu in Cramant that is given oak barrel treatment.
  • Waris-Hubert was formerly located in Cramant, but now has an address in Avize.

Comment: the list may not be complete.

No longer existing producers

  • Sugot-Feneuil (RM), a former Special Club-producers whose Special Club was a blanc de blancs.

Cooperatives

  • Coopérative Vinicole de Cramant, also called Saintgybryen, is a cooperative in Cramant with 160 members with 56 ha of vineyards that is part of the major cooperative Union Champagne in Avize. The cooperative was founded in 1950, got their own facilities in 1952 (where Moët & Chandon used to have press houses) and joined the Union Champagne in 1974. In 2007, 5% of the production was dedicated to the production of the own brand, 10% was sent to Union Champagne, 68% sold to négociants, and 17% was kept byn (sent back to) members. Their own Champagnes were sold under the brand:
    • Saintgybryen, that was added in 1977. The vintage Champagns is called Sélection and is a blanc de blancs.

The entrance to Cramant from the Cuis direction. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo G.Garitan, 2012).

Links

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

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2 Responses to Champagne village profile: Cramant, a grand cru in the Côte des Blancs

  1. Hello, you are right about Nathalie Vignier. She produces a range of Terroir Champagne under the label Champagne JVignier. See here http://www.champagnevignier.fr (website in french only, english coming soon! ).
    Link to Hubert Soreau’s website Clos l’Abbé: http://champagnelecloslabbe.fr/
    Best regards,
    Sebastian

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