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

Diagram Avize 201510Key facts

Located in subregion/area: Côte des Blancs / Côte des Blancs
Vineyards and grape varieties: 267.9 hectares (662.0 acres), of which 100% Chardonnay.

Classification: Grand cru (100%)
Noted for: Chardonnay from grand cru-classified vineyards, home village of Jacques Selosse (the best small grower in Champagne) and the winemaking school Avize Viti Campus.

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 Avize 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

Northnortheast: Oiry, grand cru
South: Oger, grand cru
West: Grauves, premier cru
Northnorthwest: Cramant, grand cru
Comment: some of the communes on the map, one to the west and two on the flatlands to the east, are not part of the Champagne appellation and therefore don’t have any village profiles.

View of Avize from the vineyards to the northwest of the village. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Gilles.callot, 2007).

The village

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

The Avize commune covers 762 hectares and has 1791 inhabitants (as of 2012), referred to as avizois and avizoises.

In Avize we find Les Avisés, an ambitious boutique hotel and restaurant run by the Selosse family in a building that used to belong to the Bricout Champagne house.

Hôtel Les Avisés 20111028

Les Avisés in October 2011

The school Avize Viti Campus

In Avize, the Champagne region’s only “practical” school of viticulture and oenology is located. It used to be called Lycée Viticole but is now known as Viti Campus since it also educates at other levels than lycée = high school/secondary school. The school is partly an agricultural secondary school with a focus on wine/Champagne production, which leads up to various versions of the “Bac” (the French high school diploma), and partly a vocational college with courses of up to two years for those that already have a Bac or a college education. The school started in 1927 and was built on a donation from 1919 by a négociant who died without direct heirs. In 1952, a winemaking cooperative was started with former students as members. The school has the use of 10,08 ha of vineyards, of which 3,23 ha are owned, 3,99 ha are leased, on 2,19 ha viticultural services are provided, and 0,67 ha is land outside the appellation.

For those that wish to study at higher level, the closest place of training has traditionally been the Université de Bourgogne in Dijon, where a full university-level programme in viticulture and oenology has existed for a long time. In France, such programmes traditionally also exist in Bordeaux and Montpellier. Nowadays, there are also two master’s programmes in the field Science de la vigne et du vin (“science of the vine and wine”) at the Université de Reims, called Vins et Champagne and Viticulture et Environnement. These are two year programmes for those that already have a non-wine specific scientific or technical university degree.

Vineyards in the northeastern part of Avize, closest to the village, with the eastern part of the village in the background. Photographed from the road between Avize and Cramant. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Szeder László, 2007).

Vineyards

The vineyards in Avize are located around the village. East-facing slopes dominate this village, but vary from more inclined above the village (close to the edge of the forest above the Côte des Blancs slope) to almost flat land below the village, e.g. close to the southern outskirts of the Oiry commune and the D9 road.

The current vineyard surface in the Avize commune is 267.9 hectares (662.0 acres). There are 267.8 ha Chardonnay (100%) and 0.1 ha others (<0,1%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 261 ha. There are 312 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Champagne houses that control vineyards in Avize include Duval-Leroy, Jacquesson, Moët & Chandon, Mumm, Perrier-Jouët, Piper Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Roederer, and Taittinger.

Avize vineyards N 20111029

In the foreground vineyards in the northern part of Avize, west of/above the road to Cramant. The hill in the background is the Butte de Saran in Chouilly, and the vineyards just below it are located in Cramant. Photo taken in October 2011.

Single vineyard sites

  • Les Avats, a south-facing vineyard in the middle of the slope. Pierre Callot produces his vintage blanc de blancs from grapes harvested in this site.
  • Champ Caïn is located in the eastern part of the commune, on the other side of the D9 road. The direction of the (tiny) slope is south-facing, but the land is almost flat. The soil is argilo-sablo-limoneuse avec graviers de craie sur craie campanienne. , or calcareous soil with clay, sand and silt over blocks of Campanian chalk. Jacquesson (in Dizy) produces one of their vineyard-designaed Champagnes from this site, a 100% Chardonnay from a 1,30 ha plot planted in 1962.
  • Les Chantereines is located just north of the village itself. 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 Chemin de Châlons in Cramant) that exists in such small quantities that it is only sold in a mixed case consisting of all lieux-dits.
  • Chemin de Flavigny is used together with Chemin de Plivot by Larmandier-Bernier (in Vertus) for their Les Chemins d’Avize, since the 2009 vintage.
  • Chemin de Plivot is used together with Chemin de Flavigny by Larmandier-Bernier for their Les Chemins d’Avize, since the 2009 vintage.
  • Clos du Grand-Père. The Cuvée St-Denis from Varnier-Fannières originates from old vines in this site.
  • Clos Jacquin, an east-facing vineyard high up in the slope. Pierre Callot produces a vineyard-designated Champagne from this site, a non-vintage dated 100% Chardonnay that is vinified 1 year in large oak vats.
  • Clos des Maladreries. Etienne Calsac produces a vineyard-designated Champagne from this site that has not yet (as of 2015) been released.

Other vineyard sites in Avize include Champs Bouton, Chemin Chalons, Chemin de Paradis, Fond du Moulin, La Fosse à Bull, Maladreries du Midi, Mazagran, Monts Cheneveaux, Regards d’Avize.

Champagne style

Considering the similar locations of Avize, Oger, and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger on the Côte des Blancs slope, the difference in style between them aren’t that big. This is the area where we should expect blanc de blancs that combine intense minerality, high acidity and a lot of concentration to a higher degree than anywhere else. Elsewhere, a blanc de blancs could be a bit leaner, more acid-dominated, less mineral-driven, softer, spicier or more fruity.

Producer and vintage is likely to play a more important role in determining the style than the specific village within this area, as well as the location of the vineyard(s) – in the slope above/around the villages or below on the slope.

When individual villages are assigned a style, Avize is often considered to be the origin of the “toughest” blanc de blancs Champagnes of them all, with good concentration and prominent minerality. An alternative description is that they are elegant, which also happens to be a common description of the style of the neighbouring village Cramant.

Avize's big bottle 20111029

The big Champagne bottle of Avize, which is located in the slope above the village. Photo taken in October 2011.

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.

  • Château d’Avize (NM), the Champagnes of which are sold under the brands Foliage and Victor Dravigny. The names of the latter are actually Hommage Victor Dravigny, but “Hommage” is in smaller print further down on the label, and the one who is so honoured is the first “flying winemaker” who started to work in this way already in 1905 and who travelled from Champagne to the east. The Foliage range includes a vintage Champagne composed of 60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, and 10% Pinot Meunier (refers to the 2004 vintage). A vintage Champagne from the own domaine, a blanc de blancs, will tentatively be launched in 2016, with 2011 as the first vintage.
    History
    The building Château d’Avize on Rue Pasteur used to belong to the De Cazanove family, who in 1958 sold their then Épernay-based Champagne house to Martini & Rossi. In the 1980s, Moët & Chandon/LVMH became owners of the building (in 1983, they also took over the Champagne house De Cazanove), and it seems to have stood mostly unused since then, despite housing large Champagne cellars. In 2009, LVMH sold to Patrick Bauchet who sold to Dominique Pierson in Bergère-lès-Vertus. In 2010, the then seriously run-down Château d’Avize was bought by the Russian Boris Titov and his Express Capital. He also is behing the SVL Group that owns Abrau-Durso, one of the oldest Russian wine companies that also produces large amounts of sparkling wine. Titov’s fortune originates from e.g. oil trading and animal fodder, and he is close to the Putin regime, and has been given some business policy-related tasks by the government. The purchase included a 25 year lease of 2 ha of vineyards at the château (apparently owned by Moët & Chandon), which were intended to be converted to biodynamical production and used for their own boutique Champagne. The production started in the 2011 vintage, and launch has not taken place yet. Probably the brand Château d’Avize will be used for these Champagnes. Purchase of grapes form 10 ha was secured, and they were used for the NM Champagnes that have been produced, initially under the Foliage brand, with the Russian market as a focus. At the purchase, high ambitions were mentioned regarding the production volume to be reached. The cellars under the château has a large cellaring capacity. The Louis XIV brand was also purchased (not to be confused with the prestige Champagne of De Venoge, Louis XV), and the idea was to rebuild parts of Château d’Avize into a luxury hotel and set up a wine tourism facility. In 2013, the ambitions regarding this were lowered and in 2014 they seem to have been shelved entirely. A contributing factor was their failure to buy the 6,42 ar garden next to the château. Large parts of the Château d’Avize therefore still are unused.
    From early 2011 to the end of 2012, Château d’Avize has uploaded a series of interesting video clips describing their work with renovating the property and starting their business. Below the first clip, with contents from July-August 2010.

  • Philippe Leclaire (NM), also written P. Leclaire. The vineyards are located entirely in the Côte des Blancs, but the range also includes a rosé.
  • Louis Massing (NM) with the company name Deregard-Massing, has 11 ha of vineyards and purchases some grapes in addition. The range includes a vintage blanc de blancs. Have also sold Champagnes under the brand:
    • Fernand Rustat
  • Most (NM), a small Champagne house launched in 2011 by Gaëtan Gillet (thus the letters GG on some labels). Has some not yet launched oak barrel-vinified Champagnes (possibly vineyard-designated) in the pipeline.
  • Pierson Whitaker (NM), a small Champagne house created in 1992 by Didier Pierson and Imogen Whitaker. A large part of their sales goes to the United Kingdom.
  • Prin Père & Fils (NM), that sources grapes from e.g. Avize, Cramant, Chouilly, and Oger for Chardonnay and Aÿ and Tauxières for Pinot Noir. The range includes two vintage Champagnes, a blanc de blancs (100% Chardonnay from Cramant) and a blanc de noirs (100% Pinot Noir from Aÿ), that both are sold with a high age. Cuvée Préstige is non-vintage dated, is composed by 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir from old vines, and is cellared over 10 years before being sold.

In Avize, there are also facilities belonging to the Reims-based Champagne houses Louis Roederer and Veuve Clicquot.

Avize vineyards NE 20111028

In the foreground vineyards in northeastern Avize, east of/below the road to Cramant. The hill to the left in the background is the Butte de Saran in Chouilly. Photo taken in October 2011.

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. SR = société de récoltants, owned by a number of growers of the same family and sells under its own name. Smaller producers are placed under this heading when no information regarding producer status is available.

  • Agrapart & Fils (RM), a well-renowned producer with 12 ha of vineyards in the Côte des Blancs, primarily in Avize, Oger, Cramant, and Oiry. All cuvées are fully or partly vinified in oak barrels and go trough malolactic fermentation. The range includes three vintage blanc de blancs: Minéral is sourced from old vines in Avize and Cramant, Avizoise is sourced from old vines mid-slope in Avize and the top wine Vénus is sourced from a vineyard in Avize planted in 1959. Complantée is a non-vintage cuvée composed of co-planted Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Blanc, Arbane, Petit Meslier, and Chardonnay from a 0,20 ha vineyard in Avize, La Fosse à Bull, planted in 2003.
  • Assailly-Leclaire & Fils (RM), has 10 ha of vineyards. The vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs from old vines.
  • F. Barbier (RM), has vineyards in Avize, Oger, Cramant, Chouilly, Oiry, Vindey, and Neuville-sur-Seine. The regular vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs. The range includes two Cuvée Spéciale “Quatre F” with old-fashioned string closure, a vintage blanc de blancs and a blanc de noirs (which is said to contain both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, though).
  • Christian Berthelot (RM)
  • A. Boatas & Fils (RC), has 3 ha, all in Avize. The vintage Champagne is a  blanc de blancs.
  • Franck Bonville (RM), has 20 ha of vineyards, of which 15 ha in Avize and the rest in Cramant and Oger. The annual production is 155 000 bottles. The vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs. Les Belles Voyes is a 100% Chardonnay from old vines that originates from a vineyard site of this name mid-slope in Oger and vinified in oak barrels. Champagnes are also sold under the brand:
    • Cuvées Camille, formerly Camille Bonville, that originates from 3 ha of the vineyard holdings. The first bottles were sold in 2009 and the name change to Cuvées Camille took place in 2015. The vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs from Avize.
  • Bouquin-Dupont Fils (RM), has 3.10 ha of vineyards in four grand cru villages in the Côte des Blancs: 1.9 ha in Avize, 0.5 ha in Cramant, 0.15 ha in Oger, and 0.55 ha in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. The vintage Champagnes is a blanc de blancs.
  • Christian Bourmault (RM; website not active in Nov 2015, Facebook page), with the company name Bourmault et Fils, has 6 ha of vineyards.
  • Pierre Callot (RM), has 7 ha of vineyards in Avize, Cramant, Chouilly, and Grauves. The vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs originating from the vineyard site Les Avats (refers to the 2007 vintage). Clos Jacquin is a vineyard-designated non-vintage blanc de blancs that is vinified in large oak vats.
  • Etienne Calsac (RM), a member of the Vignerons Indépendants with 2.8 ha of vineyards in Avize, Grauves, and Bisseuil. In 2010, Etienne took over vineyards from his grandparents that formerly had been leased out to a large Champagne house. Clos des Maladreries is a vineyard-designated Champagne that is produced in small amounts and that not yet (as of 2015) have been released.
  • Chaléroux-Ghys (RM), has 4 ha of vineyards and an annual production of 8-9 000 bottles under their own name after 80% of the harvest has been sold to the large houses.
  • Chardonnet & Fils (RM), has 5.5 ha of vineyards consisting of Chardonnay in Avize, Cramant, and Chouilly, and of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier in south-facing slopes in the area of Dormans. Sells half of the harvest to big houses and produces their own Champagne from half. Cuvée Prestige is a blanc de blancs from old vines in Avize som and is raised one year in oak barrels.
  • Corbon (RM). The vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs from Avize and Brut d’Autrefois is composed of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir with a long time (7 years) on the lees and old-fashion string closure.
  • De Sousa & Fils (RM), a well renowned member of the Vignerons Indépendants with 9.2 ha of vineyards, a large part close to Avize (including Oger, Cramant, and Chouilly), but also in the Montagne de Reims (Ambonnay) and the Vallée de la Marne (Aÿ and Mardeuil). In total there is 60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, and 10% Pinot Meunier with a high average age of the vines, over 45 years. Biodynamical growing is practiced, harvest often takes place late, vinification of the upper parts of the range is done in oak barrels, and many of the Champagnes are produced in a powerful style. Their better non-vintage blanc de blancs is called Cuvée des Caudalies, is sourced from old vines and vinified in oak barrels (of which 15% new oak) and contains a significant proportion of reserve wine from a solera started in the 1995 vintage. There is also a rosé version called Cuvée des Caudalies Rosé. The vintage-dated version is called Cuvée des Caudalies Grand Cru Millésime and used to be De Sousa’s only top wine. Nowadays, there is also a vintage-dated top cuvée called Umami, inspired by the fifth basic taste. It made its debut with the 2009 vintage, launched in September 2014, and that vintage was composed of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir.
  • Gérard Dubois (RM), has about 6 ha of vineyards, of which 3.3 ha Chardonnay in Avize, Cramant, and Oger, 1.8 ha Pinot Meunier in the Vallée de la Marne and 1 ha Pinot Noir in the Aube. The vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs, and Prestige is a vintage blanc de blancs that rests on cork (rather than crown cap) during the second fermentation. Speciale is a non-vintage cuvée of 40% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, and 20% Pinot Meunier that is sold at high age (about 10 years).
  • Hervé Dubois (RM), has 7.5 ha of vineyards, of which 5 ha Chardonnay (4.5 ha grand cru in the Côte des Blancs, 0.5 ha premier cru in the Montagne de Reims), 1.5 ha Pinot Meunier, and 1 ha Pinot Noir in the Vallé de la Marne. The vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs from old vines.
  • Fallet M. (RM)
  • Fallet-Gourron (RM)
  • Fallet-Prévostat (RM)
  • Michel Fallon (RM)
  • Michel Gonet (RM, formerly SR), has 40 ha of vineyards in Oger, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Vindey, Montgueux, and Fravaux. Also has an address in Épernay, on Avenue de Champagne, and is part of a wine company that also owns several properties in Bordeaux, with a certain focus on Graves/Pessac-Leognan. Has three vintage blanc de blancs in the range: Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru is sold youngest, Cuvée Prestige sold with a little more age, and Cuvée Authentique originates from old vines in Oger and has old-fashioned string closure. Champagnes have also been sold under the brand:
    • André Gonin
  • Lancelot-Goussard (RM?), a member of the Vignerons Indépedants that sells Champagne under the brands Claude Lancelot and Lancelot Fils. Has 5 ha of vineyards, mostly Chardonnay in Cramant, Chouilly, Oiry, and Épernay, and the rest Pinot Meunier in Mardeuil and Hautvillers as well as Pinot Noir in Celles-sur-Ource. The vintage Champagne is called Lancelot Fils Cuvée Spéciale Cramant and is a blanc de blancs from Cramant.
  • Le Brun Servenay (RM), has 7 ha of vineyards in three grand cru villages and their surroundings with 80% Chardonnay, and 20% Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The range includes two vintage Champagnes: a Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Vieilles Vignes from old vines in Oger, Avize, and Cramant, and Exhilarante Vieilles Vignes composed of 80% Chardonnay from old vines in Oger, Avize, and Cramant, 10% Pinot Noir, and 10% Pinot Meunier. Two cuvées called X.B., which is for Extra Brut, were added in 2014. X.B. 2.5 is a blanc de blancs with a low dosage of 2.5 g/l. X.B. 3.2 Rosé Ultime is a rosé of 90% Chardonnay and 10% red wine (80% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier) and 3.2 g/l dosage. Cuvée Diaphane is a blanc de blancs from old vines that is sold with higher age in magnum.
  • Jean Lemaire (RM)
  • Mignon-Gentil (RC), has vineyards in Avize, Cramant, and Cumières, among others. The vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs.
  • Petit & Bajan, a rather newly started producer with quality ambitions that has slightly more than 3 ha of vineyards in Avize and Verzenay.
  • Petit-Le Brun & Fils (RM), which has vineyards in Oiry, Chouilly, Avize, Cramant, Oger, Grauves, and Vaudancourt. The vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs.
  • Pichart-Meunier, has 2 ha of vineyards.
  • Prévoteau-Paveau (RM), has 4.25 ha of vineyards in eight villages in the Vallée de la Marne and the Côte des Blancs: Trelou, Soilly, Try, Reuil, Venteuil, Mardeuil, Cramant, and Avize. In total there are 40% Pinot Meunier, 30% Chardonnay, and 30% Pinot Noir.
  • Schemann Challand et fils, the vintage Champagne of which is called Lucien Challand.
  • Schlesser Patrick
  • Jacques Selosse (RM), who many including myself consider to be the best small grower in the Champagne wine region. Run by Anselme Selosse. The vineyard holding is 7.5 ha and the annual production is 50 000-60 000 bottles. The whole range is composed of very concentrated and foody Champagnes vinified in oak with a slightly oxidative winemaking style. The upper parts of the range are produced from base wines vinified in a solera, which means additional notes of oxidation and hints of Sherry. The oak component in a Selosse therefore doesn’t makes itself felt as vanilla or other notes of toasted oak, but more as notes of maturity. They can therefore be compared to mature white Burgundies with bubbles, and in some cases mature white Burgundy laced with Sherry. There are also also perfumed and flowery notes that contributes to giving these Champagne a very special Selosse style. In my opinion, these Champagnes respond very well to the vinification used, due to their concentration and high acidity, and the result is highly unique and excellent Champagnes. However, the style of Selosse is not uncontroversial, and a few Champagne writers consider them as weird and out of line with what they expect from a Champagne. This is probably the reason why there are so few “Selosse copies” that are completely similar to the original, because handled wrong, the oxidative oak barrel treatment can probably result in something that more comes across as a defect. The “Selosse disciples” that have received attention for good Champagnes of their own, e.g. Olivier Collin (of Ulysse Collin in Congy) and Alexandre Chartogne (of Chartogne-Taillet in Merfy), usually produce concentrated Champagnes vinified in oak, but avoid oxidative oak barrel treatment. Growing was long made biodynamically, but Selosse has never been certified neither organically or biodynamically. In recent years, Anselme has abandoned biodynamics, since his vineyards are healthy and he doesn’t see any reason to be dogmatic about vineyard management.
    Current range
    The entry-level Champagne from Selosse is called Initial (formerly spelled Initiale) and is a blanc de blancs Brut from vineyards in Avize, Cramant, and Oger, and composed of a blend of three consecutive vintages. This wine makes up more than half the production from Selosse, and the back label has for many years specified 33 000 bottles per year. The Sec version that corresponds to Initial is called Exquise and is meant to be more full-bodied and foody rather than sweet, 1000 bottles per year. Rosé consists mostly of Chardonnay from Avize with an addition of red Pinot Noir from Ambonnay (that at least earlier was sourced from Egly-Ouriet) and two consecutive vintages. Production is 6 000 flaskor per year. The Champagnes that follow are all Extra Brut. V.O., which means Version Origine, is a blanc de blancs following the same “recipe” as Initial but originates from mid-slope vineyards and usually has a bit more marked minerality and responds well to more cellaring than Initial. 3 600 bottles per year. The vintage Champage is also a blanc de blancs, with different labels between vintages, and shows large similarities to the following solera Champagnes. Substance is the non-vintage prestige Champagne, a blanc de blancs from Avize that comes from a solera started in 1986, and can be said to represent the most pronounced Selosse style, 3 000 bottles per year. The Lieux-Dits series consists of six single vineyard-designated solera Champagnes from six different villages: Les Carelles is a Chardonnay from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, La Côte Faron is a Pinot Noir from Aÿ, Le Bout du Clos is a mostly a Pinot Noir from Ambonnay (the vineyard is also supposed to contain 20% Chardonnay), Sous le Mont is a Pinot Noir from Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, Chemin de Châlons is a Chardonnay from Cramant, and Les Chantereines is a Chardonnay från Avize. Les Carelles and La Côte Faron were launched in 2010, Le Bout du Clos in 2011, and the other three in 2012. Chemin de Châlons and Les Chantereines exist in even smaller quantities than the rest and are only sold as part of a box with all six Lieux-Dits Champagnes. Il était une fois is a sweet ratafia (although the label doesn’t use that term but rather “Liqueur – Moût de raisins et Alcool”) from Chardonnay raised in a solera. All Selosse Champagner have disgorgment dates indicated on the label, but it usually isn’t too easy to find information about which vintages that are included in most of the non-vintage Champagnes. For the Lieux-Dits Champagne the rule is that the youngest vintage is seven years before the year of disgorgment, i.e., those disgorged in 2015 have base vintage 2008.
    Former range and not commercially available special versions
    Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut is the forerunner of Initial and Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut is the forerunner of V.O. Contraste was a solera-treated Pinot Noir from two vineyard sites in Aÿ and is in principle the forerunner of Côte Faron. Lubie has been used as the name of two different wines made from Pinot Noir from Ambonnay: a red Côteaux Champenois (a still wine) and a vintage-dated rosé de saignée Champagne.
    History
    The domaine was started by Jacques Selosse who moved to Avize in 1947 and bought some vineyard land. Initially, the grapes were sold to Champagne houses, but in 1959 he started to produce his own Champagnes although most of the grapes continued to be sold. His son Anselme Selosse studied winemaking in Burgundy (at the Lycée Viticole in Beaune) and returned to the domaine in 1974, and took over from his father in 1980. He soon started to produce Champagnes in a Burgundy-inspired style, and soon received attention for these. Gault Millau dubbed Anselme Selosse best winemaker of France in 1994. In 2008, larger buildings were bought that used to belong to Bricout & Koch, and in 2011 the hotel and restaurant Les Avisés was opened in a part of these.

    Blog post about I tasting I arranged in 2014 with a large part of the Selosse range.
    Blog post about a Selosse tasting late 2012.
    Blog post about a tasting in 2012 that included e.g. three Lieux-Dits from Selosse.
  • Simon-Selosse (RM), that has 4.5 ha of vineyards.
  • Paul Sugot (RM), has about 5 ha of vineyards. The vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs.
  • Tailleur-Remy (RC), whose vineyard holdings to 50% are in Oger, 38% in Avize, and 12% in Cramant. The vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs.
  • Tessier-Pagel (RM)
  • Clément Thomas (RC)
  • Varnier-Fannière (RM), a member of the Vignerons Indépendants. Cuvée St-Denis is a non-vintage Champagne sourced from old Chardonnay vines in the vineyard site Clos du Grand-Père. The vintage Champagne is named Grand Vintage and is a blanc de blancs from old vines.
  • Veuve J. Lanaud. Several of the Champagnes in the range exist in both non-vintage and vintage-dated versions under the same or almost the same name, and the range includes e.g. a vintage blanc de blancs. Carte Noire is composed by 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir (refers to the 2009 vintage). Cuvée Marie-Josephine is composed of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and takes its name from the founder. Cuvée des “Prêtrosses”, in the vintage version Les Prêtrosses, is a vineyard-designated blanc de blancs from a vineyard site in Chouilly.
  • Alain Waris & Fils (RM), a member of Vignerons Indépedants. The vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs, Cuvée Etrusque is a blanc de blancs from vineyards in Avize, and La Rose des Desserts is a rosé demi-sec.
  • Waris-Hubert (RM), has vineyards in Avize, Oger, Cramant, Chouilly, Aÿ, Grauves, Bisseuil, and Sézanne. The regular vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs from Avize, and the range also includes the vintage-dated Equinoxe, which is an oaked blanc de blancs from Avize with old-fashioned string closure.
  • Waris-Larmandier (RM), a member of Vignerons Indépendants. Cuvée Empreinte is a blanc de blancs from Avize and Cramant.

Comment: the list may not be complete.

Château Desbordes. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Gérald Garitan, 2011).

No longer existing producers

  • Bricout is today a brand (MA, marque d’acheteur) owned by Vranken-Pommery Monopole via Charles Lafitte but used to be a Champagne house, long under the name Bricout & Koch (NM) and that sold Champagnes e.g. under the name Charles Koch.
    History
    Bricout was founded in 1966 by Christian Andreas Kupferberg as a subsidiary of the wine company Kupferberg in Mainz. He named the company for his French forefather Arthur Bricout, who was a Champagne trader from 1870 to 1876. In 1977, the old Champagne house Koch (founded in 1820) and the became Bricout & Koch. By 1990, the business had expanded to an annual production of 3 million bottles, which made Bricout & Koch the 10th largest Champagne house. After that, the house seems to have run into problems, probably in connection with the financial downturn in the early 1990s. After the main owner of Kupferberg thought that too large investments would be needed to bring Bricout & Koch back into shape, the house was sold in 1998 to S.A. Financière Martin & Fils, which was led by Pierre Martin in Bouzy, and that since 1995 was the owner of the Champagne house Delbeck and in in the same year had founded Sté Vinicole Martin. At the purchase in 1998, Bricout & Koch produced 2 million bottles annually and Delbeck 800 000. Later, Waris was also added to the Martin group. After this company group had ran into difficulties (after a slump in Champagne sales following the IT crash), it was bought in March 2003 by Opson Schneider, a US-owned Luxemburg-based investment company. However, there were irregularities in connection with the purchase, and in April 2003, Bricout-Delbeck filed for bankruptcy and a major scandal was unveiled. Both money and a large amount of bottles disappeared in Avize, complaints about fraud were filed, and in the known French manner, angry workers started to smash bottles and parts of the château as well as threatened to destroy the entire stock of 7 million bottles. The 400 ha of Bricout-Delbeck vineyards (this figure likely includes grape supply contracts) ended up with Vranken and LVMH, that also took over a large part of the employees. Vranken also took over the brands Bricout and Delbeck, and a facility in Tours-sur-Marne. The Bricout buildings in Avize were bought by Jacques Selosse, and after rebuilding in 2011 they were put to use as the Hotel lés Avisés.
    Here is a website with the history of Bricout, written by the seller of 2003 (or someone close to them), who considers themselves the target of unfair accusations after the irregularities surrounding the purchase was unveiled.
  • Giesler & Co was a Champagne house founded in 1838 and that still existed in Avize in the 1940s, and in 1980s are mentioned as being situated in Épernay (could then have been as a brand used by some other house). Their former facilities in Avize were purchased some time after 1966 by the Union Champagne. What today is G.H. Mumm was founded in 1827 under the name P.A. Mumm Giesler et Co by Peter Arnold von Mumm, Friedrich Giesler, and G. Heuser, unclear if it is the same Giesler or someone else from his family who was behind this house.
  • Albert Le Brun, today a brand used by Charles de Cazanove in Reims. The prestige Champagne Vieille France is still being produced.
    History
    The house was founded in 1860 in Avize by Leon Le Brun, and was taken over by Albert in the next generation. The house later moved to Châlons-en-Champagne, according to one source as late as 1975. This was the seat of the house when Francois Le Brun sold it to the US investment company Plantagenet Capital Management in late 1998. In 2000, the house was sold on to Patrick Raulet (with the company SA Finance du Levant), who in 2003 sold to the Lombard & Médot group (which then was still called Charles de Cazanove). The home address of Albert Le Brun then became Pargny-lès-Reims, where the sister house Médot also had facilities. After G.H. Martel bought Charles de Cazanove from Lombard & Médot later in 2003, the brand Albert Le Brun seems to have been part of the purchase.

Cooperatives

  • Coopérative des Anciens de la Viticulture is cooperative that is connected to the Lycée Viticole and which has former students as members, and was founded in 1952. Has 106 members with vineyards in over 40 villages and annual sales of 100 000-130 000 bottles. Of the approx 15 ha of vineyards, the own holdings of the school and leased land make up a significant proportion. The Champagnes are sold under the brands:
    • Sanger, the range of which includes three vintage Champagnes: Pères d’Origines which is composed of grapes from grand cru villages, of which 50-60% Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and 40-50% Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs, Triangle Minéral which is a blanc de blancs from the Côte des Blancs (Avize and Oger), and Préstige Ultime which is a blanc de blancs from old vines belonging to the Domaine de Viticole Lycée. Louise Eugénie is a oak barrel-vinified cuvée composed of 60% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir, and 20% Pinot Meunier named for a donor to the school.
    • J.M. Vaubécourt
  • Coopérative vinicole les viticulteurs d’Avize is a cooperative in Avize.
  • Union Champagne is a major cooperative consisting of 13 village cooperatives with a focus on grand cru and premier cru villages (more than 90% of the members’ vineyards). In total there are 2150 members with 1260 ha of vineyards, of which about 760 ha grand cru and about 370 ha premier cru. There are some independent cooperatives in grand cru villages, but no other cooperative of nearly this size has the same access to grapes from the best villages as Union Champagne. Quite a bit of grapes to the vintage and prestige Champagnes of the major houses are likely to be supplied through this cooperative and its member cooperatives.
    Member cooperatives and year of membership
    Coopérative Vinicole de Cramant (1974), Les Grappes d’Or (Oger, 1966), Union des Propriétaires Récoltants (Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, 1966), Coopérative Vinicole de Vertus (1966), Coopérative Henri Augustin (Vertus, 1992), Coopérative Vinicole du Mont Aimé (Bergères-lès-Vertus, 1968),
    Coopérative Vinicole d’Ambonnay (1973), Société Coopérative d’Intérêts Vinicoles (Bouzy, 1978), Coopérative Au Bouquet (Bouzy, 2009), Association Coopérative de Viticulteurs de Premiers Crus de la Marne (Aÿ, 1998), Coopérative Rurale Vinicole de Villers-Marmery (2004), Coopérative Louis Dupont (Cumières, 1966), and Coopérative Les Coteaux de Champagne (Oger, 1967).
    History
    Union Champagne was founded in 1966 by four cooperatives in Oger, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Vertus, and Cumières.
    Union des Propriétaires Récoltants in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger was initially used as the common production facility. The possibility then showed up to purchase buildings in Avize that had formerly belonged to the Champagne house Giesler.
    The best of their own Champagnes are sold under the brand:

      • De Saint Gall. The prestige Champagne is called Orpale and is a 100% Chardonnay. The origin of the grapes is one third from Avize and Cramant and two thirds from Oger och Le Mesnil-sur-Oger.

    Other brands used by Union Champagne include René Florancy.

The church in Avize, Église Saint-Nicolas. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo G.Garitan, 2015).

Links

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

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