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

Diagram Oger 201510Key facts

Located in subregion/area: Côte des Blancs / Côte des Blancs
Vineyards and grape varieties: 403.0 hectares (995.8 acres), of which 99.6% Chardonnay and 0.4% Pinot Noir.

Classification: Grand cru (100%)
Noted for: Chardonnay from grand cru-classified vineyards

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

North: Avize, grand cru
Southsoutheast: Villeneuve-Renneville-Chevigny, premier cru
South: Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, grand cru
Northwest: Grauves, premier cru
Comment: some of the communes on the map, in particular on the flatlands to the east, are not part of the Champagne appellation and therefore don’t have any village profiles.

Oger surrounded by vineyards in autumn colours. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo October Ends, 2011).

The village

Oger is located to the 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 of the other Côte de Blancs villages.

The Oger commune covers 1506 hectares and has 577 inhabitants (as of 2012) referred to as ogiats and ogiates. (So if you expected them to be called ogres or ogers, you were wrong!)

In Oger we find La Maison de la Mariée, a museum (also called Musée du Mariage) dedicated to marriage and weddings, which also has a part about Champagne and the production of Champagne.

La Maison de la Mariée in Oger. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo G.Garitan, 2013).

Vineyards

The vinyards in Oger are located around the village. East-facings lopes dominate in the village, but there are also souteast-facing slopes on the hillside to the northwest of the village. The inclination varies from a higher slope above the village (close to the forest on top of the Côte des Blancs hill) to almost flat land below the village, close to the D9 road. Some of the vineyards are located on the opposite side of the D9. The vineyards consist almost exclusively of Chardonnay.

The current vineyard surface in the Oger commune is 403.0 hectares (995.8 acres). There are 401.2 ha Chardonnay (99.6%) and 1.8 ha Pinot Noir (0.4%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 397 ha. There are 212 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Champagne houses that control vineyards in Avize include Duval-Leroy, Moët & Chandon, Piper Heidsieck, Roederer, and Taittinger.

Single vineyard sites

  • Les Belles Voyes is a vineyard located mid-slope used by Franck Bonville in Avize for a vineyard-designated Champagne utilizing old Chardonnay vines, planted in the 1920s and 1930s.
  • Clos Cazals is a wall-enclosed site of 3.70 ha located next to what used to be the house of Léon Bourgeois (French premier and foreign minister, who took the initiative to the League of Nations and who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1920). The vineyard was purchased by Cazals (in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger) in the 1950s and was later named after the family. Clos Cazals consists of three plots with different age of the vines: one part planted in 1957, another in 2001, and in a third part of 1.3 ha there is a small chapel and vines with an average age (in 2014) of 25 years. From the 1995 vintage, a vineyard-designated Champagne has been produced from this site, from 100% Chardonnay using a selection of old vines. In 2014, a Champagne was launched that originates from the medium-aged part with a chapel. It is called La Chapelle du Clos, is not vintage dated but had 2006 as the base vintage at its release in 2014.
  • Terres de Noël. From this site, Jean Milan produces a vineyard-designated blanc de blancs from old vines.

Other vineyard sites in Oger include Barbettes, Beaudure, Brulis, Champs Nérons, Chenêts, Fondy, Zailleux.

Champagne style

Champagnes produced from grapes grown in Oger are considered to be very mineral-driven and at the same time rich in style. Although each of the neighbouring villages on the Côte des Blancs are said to have a style of their own, the difference between Avize, Oger, and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger isn’t too large, considering the similar location of their vineyards. 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 specific vineyard(s) – in the slope above/around the villages or below on flatter land.

The grand cru status

Oger is one of 17 villages that were scored 100% on the now defunct échelle des crus scale. It has kept the grand cru status after the scale was abolished in 2010. Oger was promoted from premier cru to grand cru status in 1985, together with Chouilly, Oiry, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, and Verzy.

Oger surrounded by vineyards, as seen from the south. Picture linked form 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.

  • Chapuy (NM), has 8 ha of vineyards, a large proportion of which Chardonnay in the Côte des Blancs (including Oger) as well as Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier in the Côteaux Sud d’Épernay. The vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs. The top cuvée is called Livrée Noire and consists of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir.
  • Jean Milan (NM), has 6 ha of vineyards of their own and an annual production of 110 000 bottles. The range includes several vintage Champagnes: Symphorine is a blanc from four vineyard sites in Oger (Zailleux, Beaudures, Barbettes, and Chenêts; refers to the 2009 vintage), Transparence is a blanc de blancs from Oger with extra low dosage (2 g/l, refers to the 2007 vintage), and Terres de Noël is a vineyard-designated blanc de blancs from old vines. Grande Réserve is an oak barrel-vinified Champagne with old-fashioned string closure. They also are behind:

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.

  • Bonnet-Gilmert (RM), has vineyards in Oger, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, and Avize. The vintage Chamagne is a blanc de blancs. The top cuvée is called Précieuse d’Ambroise and is an oaked blanc de blancs.
  • René Bouché (RC)
  • Boucher-Venier (RC)
  • Dominique Caux (RM), a small producer with 0.5 ha of vineyards and an annual production of 5000 bottles.
  • Chinchilla Père & Fils (RC)
  • G. Cuiret Père & Fils
  • Demière-Ansiot (RM), has 3.5 ha of vineyards in Oger.
  • J. Désautels Père & Fils (RC)
  • Désautels-Cuiret (RC)
  • Descôtes-Lemaire Vassogne
  • La Destinée
  • José Dhondt (RM), has 6 ha of vineyards distributed over Côte des Blancs and Sézannais. The top wine is called Mes Vieille Vignes and is produced as a vintage Champagne in particularly good vintages.
  • Drémont-Leroy (RC)
  • Dubois-Cléry (RC)
  • Gantois-Louvet (RM)
  • Gaunel-Hemet (RC), has two vintage Champagnes of which one is a blanc de blancs.
  • Gromaire-Dremont (RC)
  • Herbelet, has about 9 ha of vineyards in nine villages including Cramant, Avize, Oger, and Oiry, of which 80% Chardonnay.
  • Klepka-Sausse (RC), whose top cuvée is called Comte de Chermont and is composed of 54% Chardonnay and 46% Pinot Noir (refers to the 2006 vintage).
  • René Kint (RM), which also has an address in Vertus.
  • Frédéric Lefebvre (RC)
  • Lefevre-Vandendaele (RC)
  • Guy Moussy (RC), which sells some Champagnes under the name Charles Moussy. The range includes three vintage Champagnes: Cuvée Préstige is a blend of  Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and then there are two blanc de blancs: Grand Réserve Blanc de Blancs and Cuvée Harpège.
  • J. Pierron-Léglise (RM)
  • Poirel-Jarriau (RC), has 1.3 ha of vineyards in Étréchy and Oger.
  • De la Renaissance (RM), has about 8 ha of vineyards, Chardonnay in Oger, Avize, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, and Chouilly, Pinot Noir in Aÿ, and Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier in Saudoy. The vintage Champagne is called La Dame de la Renaissance.
  • Henry de Vaugency (RM)
  • F. Vauversin (RM). The vintage Champagne is a blanc de blancs from old vines.
  • Veuve Eléonore (RM), has 13.3 ha of vineyards, mostly in the Côte des Blancs. The vintage Champagne is called Cuvée Prestige d’Antan. Mystere 9 is a blend of the nine best vintages in the last 20 years. Cuvée Futaille is vinified 8 months in oak barrels that are heated in a way that the producer claims is unique for them.

Comment: the list may not be complete.

Cooperatives

  • COGEVI – Coopérative General des Vignerons – an old and large cooperative founded in 1921. The members have 670 ha of vineyards, the production capacity is 10 million bottles per year, and their have cellars with a storage capacity of 34 million bottles. The main production facility is in Oger, and they also have the “Collet plant” in Aÿ. The Champagnes are sold under three brands, one which is their own and two that are produced in cooperation with other cooperatives:
    • Collet (earlier written Raoul Collet) – COGEVI’s own brand, with a presence in Aÿ.
    • Jacquart – owned by COGEVI together with l’Union Auboise and COVAMA. Jacquart is located in Reims and was founded in 1964.
    • Montaudon is a brand that belongs together with Jacquart, i.e., it is owned by  COGEVI together with l’Union Auboise and COVAMA and has a presence in Reims.
  • Les Grappes d’Or is a cooperative in Oger that is a member of the major cooperative Union Champagne in Avize, and that has 320 members with a total of 163 ha. Their own Champagnes are sold under the brand Paul D’Echaly. The range includes two vintage Champagnes that are both 100% Chardonnay: the regular Brut Millésime and Spéciale Millésimée.
    History
    The cooperative was founded in 1946 as a reaction to the crisis within the business in the 1930s and 1940s. In the first years, equipment was rented by local independent winemakers, before they bought their first own presses in 1953. In 1954, they also had their own facilities. In 1966, the cooperative joined the Union Champagne.
  • Les Coteaux de Champagne is a cooperative in Oger focussed on the outskirts of the Champagne region and which is a member of the major cooperative Union Champagne in Avize. The cooperative has 267 members with 119 ha of vineyards distributed over 109 communes.
    History
    Union Champagne, which is primarily focussed on grand cru and premier cru villages, created this cooperative in 1967 under the name Les Coteaux Champenoise to handle vineyards in the Marne department below 95% on the échelle des crus scale. In the 1980s, the coverage of the cooperative was increased to also include members in the Aisne department, i.e., the western part of the Vallée de la Marne. The premier vintage 1967 was vinified in a privately owned facility vinifierades in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and originated from 25 ha, mostly in the Sézannais area and the neighbourhood of Soulières and Coligny. For over 20 years, the cooperative was housed in facilities rented from the other Oger cooperative, Les Grappes d’Or, until they got their own facilities in the early 1990s. After INAO renamed the appellation for the still wines of Champagne from “Vin nature de la Champagne” to the current Coteaux Champenois, the cooperative changed its name to the current one. In 1998, the cooperative had 200 members with 102 ha of vineyards.

The church in Oger, Église Saint-Laurent. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo François Collard, 2009).

Links

© Tomas Eriksson 2015, last update 2016-01-01

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