Reims – the largest city in Champagne, part 1

Diagram Reims 201506Key facts

Located in subregion/area: Montagne & Val de Reims / Vesle et Ardre
Vineyards and grape varieties: 55.5 hectares (137.1 acres), of which 38% Chardonnay, 34% Pinot Meunier, and 28% Pinot Noir.
Classification: “Autre cru” (88%)
Noted for: the largest city in or close to the Champagne wine region, many major Champagne houses including Veuve Clicquot, Pommery, the three Heidsieck houses, Lanson, Mumm, and Taittinger, the Notre-Dame de Reims cathedral.

The profile is divided into three parts
Part 1: Basic facts
Part 2: Major Champagne houses, members of the Union des Maisons de Champagne
Part 3: Other Champagne producers – cooperatives and small producers – and former producers

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

Champagne villages that directly border to the Reims commune
Southwest: Bezannes (premier cru)
Southsouthwest: Villers-aux-Nœuds
Åt söder: Trois-Puits (premier cru, part of the Grande Montagne de Reims)
Southsoutheast: Cormontreuil (premier cru, part of the Grande Montagne de Reims)
Southeast: Taissy (premier cru, part of the Grande Montagne de Reims)
Southeast: Puisieulx (grand cru, part of the Grande Montagne de Reims)
East: Cernay-lès-Reims (part of the Monts de Berru)
Northwest: Saint-Thierry (part of the Massif de Saint-Thierry)
Comment: a number of the neighbouring communes are not located in the Champagne appellation, i.e., they don’t have any vineyards, and therefore no village profiles.

The city hall of Reims, Hôtel de Ville. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo DXR, 2014).

The city

The Reims commune has a surface of 4702 hectares (18.15 sq mi) and 182 592 inhabitants (as of 2013), called Rémois and Rémoises. Including suburbs the entire urban area – aire urbaine – has 317 611 inhabitants (as of 2012). By a wide margin, Reims is the largest city in the Marne department as well as the now-defunct administrative region Champagne-Ardenne (which also included the Ardenne, Aube, and Haut-Marne departments), but it is Châlons-en-Champagne which is the departmental capital and used to be the regional capital. In the merged region of Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine (ACAL), formed 1 Januari 2016, Reims ends up in the fifth place among the communes and in the fourth place among the urban areas. Strasbourg in Alsace is the regional capital of ACAL.

Reims is located in the northern part of the Champagne wine region, north of the Montagne de Reims hill. In the Reims commune itself, there is also some amounts of vineyards here and there, despite the built-up areas of the city. However, the more continuous vineyards start only in the suburban communes south of Reims.

The Notre-Dame de Reims cathedral. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Tim Hodson, 2011).

In Reims, we find the largest concentration of major Champagne houses, although Épernay is the home of almost as many houses (but fewer of the very largest). The deep chalk soils under the city made for good conditions for digging the deep and cool cellars that provided excellent storage conditions for millions of Champagne bottles, before air conditioning saw the light of day. Some of the Champagne houses that are located on the eastern side of Reims have used old chalk pits dating from the Roman era, called crayères, as part of their cellars.

The most well-known landmark of Reims is the Notre-Dame de Reims, the impressive Gothic-style cathedral which in former times was used to crown the kings of France.

Gastronomy

Reims and its suburbs currently (2016) sport four restaurants with stars in the Guide Michelin: L’Assiette Champenoise (on the southern side, in Tinqueux) with three stars, Le Parc Les Crayères (in the southeastern part of the city, between Pommery and Veuve Clicquot) has two stars, while Le Foch and Le Millénaire both have one star and are located in the city centre. One restaurant has a Bib Gourmand: Le Pavillon CG. Other restaurants that can be recommended are Le Jardin des Crayères (the bistro of the two-star Les Crayères) and The Glue Pot.

The pink biscuits from Reims. Picture linked from  Wikimedia Commons (photo Cherry, 2011).

Outside the city, the closest starred restaurant is the excellent Le Grand Cerf (one star) in Montchenot, a village in the Villers-Allerand commune, located on the northern side of the Montagne de Reims.

One of the local specialities is the biscuit producer Fossier and their pink cookies, that many eat diped in Champagne. The Fossier factory is located in northern Reims and they have three shops of their own in the city.

Vineyards

urrent vineyard surface in the Montgueux commune is 55.5 hectares (137.1 acres). There are 21.1 ha Chardonnay (38.0%), 19.0 ha Pinot Meunier (34.2%), and 15.4 ha Pinot Noir (27.8%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 50 ha. There are today 41 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Champagne houses that control vineyards in the commune include (according to older information) Canard-Duchêne, Lanson, G.H. Martel & Cie, G.H. Mumm, Piper-Heidsieck, Ruinart, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, and Vranken-Pommery.

Single vineyard sites

  • Clos Lanson is a vineyard of 1 ha (2.5 acres), planted to Chardonnay, which is located just behind Lanson’s facilities in southern Reims. The first vintage produced is 2006, and it is set to be released in May 2016. (The original plan was to release it in 2014.) This single vineyard Champagne is oak barrel-vinified, unlike the former production of Lanson, and it is said to have a ripe character since this city-located vineyard experiences a higher temperature than those in the surrounding countryside. The annual production is about 8 000 bottles.
  • Les Clos Pompadour is a collective name for three vineyard sites totaling 25 ha owned by Pommery and located near their facilities in eastern Reims. 75% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir, and 5% Pinot Meunier are grown here. From the 2002 vintage, a smaller part of the harvest from these vineyards has started to be used for a vineyard-designated Champagne with the same composition as the vineyard i general, and it is only produced in magnum. The 2002 vintage of Les Clos Pompadour was launched in late 2011 and was sold without a vintage year, but can be identified by the back label saying “mise en cave en 2003” (the 2002 harvest ended up bottled in the cellar in 2003). The 2003 was labelled as a vintage Champagne and was launched in 2014.

Links

© Tomas Eriksson 2016

This entry was posted in Champagne, Champagne villages and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Reims – the largest city in Champagne, part 1

  1. Ett sådant sammanträffande – jag är där 5-7 juni! Har best. bord på Les Crayeuses. Bergs Lars

    Skickat från min iPhone

    • vintomas says:

      Well Bergs Lars, if you’re visiting Les Crayères I’m sure you’ll have an excellent time. It’d be nice to hear a report afterwards.

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