Champagne village profile: Les Riceys in the Barséquanais, with the largest vineyard area of all Champagne villages and its own rosé wine

Key facts

Diagram Les Riceys 201605Located in subregion/area: Côte des Bar / Barséquanais
Vineyards and grape varieties: 842.9 hectares (2082.9 acres), of which 92.4% Pinot Noir, 6.5% Chardonnay, 0.8% Pinot Meunier, and 0.4% others.
Classification: “Autre cru” (80%)
Noted for: their still rosé wines from Pinot Noir, Rosé des Riceys; the village is the largest Champagne village in terms of vineyard area, and one of the southernmost.

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. The dashed red line is the departmental border between Aube (where Les Riceys is located) and Côte-d’Or.

Google Maps view with the villages in the Barséquanais highlighted.

Clicking on a village opens a field to the left with a link to the village profile (if it exists).

Neighbouring villages within the Champagne appellation

Southwest: Bragelogne-Beauvoir
West: Bagneux-la-Fosse
Northwest: Avirey-Lingey
North: Balnot-sur-Laignes
Northnortheast: Neuville-sur-Seine
Northeast: Gyé-sur-Seine
Eastsoutheast (via a narrow strip of land): Mussy-sur-Seine

The church Église Saint-Pierre-ès-Liens in Ricey Bas with vineyards in the background. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Peter Potrowl, 2012).

The village

Les Riceys – the name is a plural form – consists of Ricey Bas, Ricey Haute Rive, and Ricey Haut, which are situated in a row along the Laignes river. Since the river flows to the north, Ricey Bas (“lower Ricey”) is located to the north and Ricey Haut (“upper Ricey”) to the south. Laignes is a tributary of Seine, and empties into this river at Polisy, just north of Les Riceys.

The Les Riceys commune has a surface of 4293 hectares and 1304 inhabitants (as of 2013), referred to as Ricetons and Ricetonnes.

The commune is one of the southernmost in the Aube department, and to the south borders to Molesme, a commune in the Côte-d’Or department. This is also the border between the Champagne and Burgundy wine regions. Molesme, on the other side of the border, is part of the area around Châtillon-sur-Seine that is called Châtillonnais, where production of Crémant de Bourgogne dominates. Thus, sparkling wines dominate on both sides of the border.

Bridge over La Laignes in Ricey Haut. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Philippesalv, 2013).

Vineyards

The vineyards in Les Riceys are spread over the western, northern and eastern parts of the commune, and are totally dominated by Pinot Noir. The vineyards are mostly located on several long, rather hills, of which several run in the east-west direction and are side valleys of Laignes. Their exposure varies, but quite a bit of the vineyard area consists of mild south-facing slopes, which are well-suited to provide ripe grapes.

The current vineyard surface in the Les Riceys commune is 842.9 hectares (2082.9 acres). There are 778.4 ha Pinot Noir (92.4%), 54.6 ha Chardonnay (6.5%), 6.9 ha Pinot Meunier (0.8%), and 3.0 ha others (0.4%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 714 ha, so the trend is increasing. There are 296 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

Les Riceys’ classification as “autre cru”

On the new-defunct échelle des crus, Les Riceys was rated 80%, the lowest number on the scale, which was 80%-100%. This is in similarity to all other villages in Côte des Bar. This means that Les Riceys is an “autre cru”, the informal designation for those Champagne villages that aren’t grand cru (100%) or premier cru (90%-99%). This “one size fits all” treatment of all the villages of the southern part of the Champagne wine could possibly be justified by the vineyards of most villages being more spread-out and more varied in exposure than those along the Montagne de Reims or the Côte de Blancs, as well as less chalk-dominated soils. Remember that classification in Champagne is of entire villages, rather than of individual vineyards. This means that on the vineyard level, a significant part of the vineyard area in Les Riceys has been underestimated. This village has several hundred hectares of south-facing slopes, where Pinot Noir has good conditions for ripening.

Single vineyard sites

  • En Barmont is a site with clay soils used by Olivier Horiot for several Champagnes and still wines, all Pinot Noir.
  • Les Escharere is a site with marl soils neighbouring En Valingrain.
  • La Forêt is a site with pure south-facing exposure that Alexandre Bonnet uses for their Rosé des Riceys.
  • Les Prémalins is a site where Olivier Horiot cultivates the unusual grape varieties Arbane, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Petit Meslier.
  • En Valingrain is a site with marl soils and rather large slope, neighbouring Les Escharere. The site is used by Olivier Horiot for one of their Rosé des Riceys and still white wine.

Vineyards in Les Riceys. The picture shows how the vineyards are spread over different long hills that make up side valleys of Laignes. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Lucie2beaugency, 2014).

Rosé des Riceys

In the Champagne wine region there is only one appellation for sparkling wine, AOP Champagne, but two appellations for still wine, AOP Coteaux Champenois and AOP Rosé des Riceys. Coteaux Champenois can be white, red, and rosé, but the red wines dominate greatly and rosé is much more unusual than white wines. As far as I know there are only a handful of producers of rosé Coteaux Champenois in the entire region, so most of the still rosés produced in Champagne are Rosé de Riceys.

Rosé des Riceys may only be produced using Pinot Noir from the Les Riceys commune, but may also be vinified in the seven closest neighbouring commune (Avirey-Lingey, Bagneux-la-Fosse, Balnot-sur-Laignes, Bragelogne-Beauvoir, Gyé-sur-Seine, Mussy-sur-Seine, Neuville-sur-Seine). The grapes must reach at least 10% potential alcohol, which is a higher requirement for ripeness than for the Champagne appellation.

Louis XIV, painted by Pierre Mignard (1612-1695), year unknown. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons.

Les Riceys is thus the only commune of the Champagne wine region having vineyards that can be used to produce all the appellations of the region, since they alone can be used Rosé des Riceys. The total production of Rosé de Riceys is about 70 000 annually. This means that we’re talking of quite limited amounts, but my impression is that the number of producer has increased somewhat in the 2000s.

Legend tells that the rosé wines from Les Riceys was introduced to Versailles by workers and stonemasons from the Riceys area that were working on building the Versailles palace towards the end the 17th century, and the wine was said to be much appreciated by Louis XIV, King of France 1643-1715. At this time, wines from Champagne were generally still wines, and light red wines were periodically the most common ones. It could therefore be said that Rosé des Riceys represent a tradition preserved from the time before the sparkling wines started to dominate production in early 19th century.

cadole in Les Riceys. In the Champagne wine region, this type of old “stone huts” are only found in Aube, and not the least in the area around Les Riceys and often close to vineyards. Here they are also referred to as cabanes de vigne. They also can be found in the south of Burgundy and in particular in Beaujolais. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Peter Potrowl, 2012).

Champagne producers

Major Champagne houses, members of the Union des Maisons de Champagne

  • Alexandre Bonnet (NM) is a Champagne house in the Lanson-BCC group. Has about 45 ha of vineyards of their own. The Champagnes has a high proportion of Pinot Noir, with 80% (and 20% of Chardonnay) in their non-vintage Brut, and 100% Pinot Noir in several of their wines. The vintage Champagne is composed of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir (refers to the 2009 vintage). The range also includes a Rosé de Riceys from the single vineyard site La Forêt and a Coteaux Champenois Rouge produced entirely from Les Riceys grapes, also here from La Forêt. In February 2012, 497 old gold coins with a face value of 20 USD were found while renovating an old building that belongs to this Champagne house since 1981. To celebrate this, the cuvée Trésors Caché (“hidden treasures”) was released in fall 2014 in 1000 numbered bottles followed by a lottery where ten of the coins (then worth about 1200 euro apiece) were given to the buyers of these bottles. In the future (information from 2014), the house will also introduce one or several Champagnes that contain the rare grape varieties Petit Meslier, Arbane, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris.
    History
    The house was founded in 1973 (according to their owner, while the house’s website states 1970) by René, Serge, and Alain Bonnet, and owned since 1998 by BCC, later Lanson-BCC. The company bought in 1998 was called Groupe Charmoy.

    Also sells Champagnes under the brands:

    • Ferdinand Bonnet
    • Petrot Bonnet

Other 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.

  • d’Avella (NM?) is a small Champagne house who mainly sell their Champagnes under the names Baron d’Avella (that started to be used 2007) and d’Avella-Garnier. They have 2.5 ha of vineyards and an annual production of about 30 000 bottles (information from 2008). Grande Vendange is a vintage Champagne sold under the d’Avella-Garnier name. The company name is d’Avella Frères.
  • Gallimard Père & Fils (NM) has 10 ha of vineyards in Les Riceys with 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Chardonnay. The vintage Champagne is called Cuvée Prestige and is composed of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay (refers to the 2011 vintage). Quintessence is an oak barrel-vinified blanc de blancs.

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.

  • Augé-Dascier, has slightly over 6 ha of vineyards in Les Riceys with 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay.
  • Batisse Xavier (RM, Facebook page), formerly Batisse Grandin.
  • Batisse-Lancelot (RM)
  • Bauser (RM). Fidélia is a vintage Champagne.
  • Pascal Benoist (RC), has vineyards with 65% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier, and 5% Chardonnay. The range includes a vintage Champagne.
  • Guy Chériot (RM)
  • Chevrolat (RM), also M. Chevrolat, has 7 ha of vineyards. Was a cooperative member until 1999.
  • Christian Coquet (RC)
  • Daniel Clergeot (RM), the range of which includes a vintage Champagne.
  • Clergeot Père & Fils, has just over 5 ha of vineyards composed of 87% Pinot Noir and 13% Chardonnay.
  • Christophe Dechannes (RM), also Dechannes Père & Fils. The vintage Champagne is a pure Pinot Noir.
  • Elise Dechannes (RM), has 4.58 ha of vineyards (that she took over in 2007) and is under conversion to organic cultivation since 2014. The range includes two vintage Champagne simply called Chardonnay and Pinot NoirCœur de Noirs is a Pinot Noir from the single vineyard site Champ Méchain.
  • Jacques Defrance (RM), the range of which includes a vintage Champagne.
  • Jean Despret (RM)
  • Gilles Dumont (RC)
  • Guy de Forez (RM), has 8.7 ha of vineyards. The range includes a vintage Champagne.
  • Didier Goussard (RM), a member of Terra Vitis wth 2.94 ha of vineyards. The top Champagne is named Hommage & Héritage and is a partly oak barrel-vinified Pinot Noir. Also has an address in Avirey-Lingey.
  • Émile Grados, has 5 ha of vineyards with 95% Pinot Noir.
  • Guillaumée Christiane (RC)
  • Guyard-Lamoureux (RM, Facebook page)
  • Horiot Père & Fils (RM), has 8.5 ha of vineyards.
  • Olivier Horiot (RM), formerly Serge et Olivier Horiot and before that Serge Horiot (RC), is one of the modern small growers that have received attention in recent years. Of 7 ha of vineyards, 2 ha is used for Olivier Horiot Champagnes, and the rest is sold, including to the cooperative that Serge Horiot co-founded. Olivier Horiot started to produce still wines in 2000, and Champagnes in 2004. In the Olivier Horiot vineyards, there are 75% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Blanc, 3% Arbanne, 3% Pinot Meunier, 2% Petit Meslier, and 2% Pinot Gris, i.e., all seven allowed grape varieties. All Champagnes are vinified in oak barrels for one year, and in some cases originate from a single vineyard site. All are vintage Champagnes with the exception of Métisse, which includes reserve wine from a solera and is composed of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Blanc. Sève exists both as a blanc de noirs and a rosé de saignée and in both cases are 100% Pinot Noir from the single vineyard site En Barmont. 5 Sens is composed of Arbanne, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Noir. The varietal Arbane was launched in 2014, in the 2006 vintage, and as far as I know there has been only one varietal Arbane before this one (from Moutard in Buxeuil). The range also includes five still wines, of which three Rosé de Riceys of a deep colour: En Barmont and En Valingrain originates from the vineyard sites of the same name, and Esquisse is a blend from the two site. A red Coteaux Champenois is produced from 100% Pinot Noir from En Barmont and a white wine from a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc from En Valingrain.
  • Daniel Lamoureux (RM)
  • Guy Lamoureux (RM). Melle Bouquet is a vintage Champagne composed of 100% Pinot Noir (refers to the 2008 vintage).
  • Jean-Jacques Lamoureux (RM), has 12 ha of vineyard, of which 9 ha around Les Riceys and 3 ha around Channes. Cuvée Alexandrine is a vintage blanc de blancs and Florine is a vintage Champagne composed of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir (refers to the 2010 vintage). Cuvée St Vincent was formerly part of the range and was of the same composition as Florine.
  • Jean-Pierre Lamoureux (RM). The company name is Joëlle Sausseret.
  • Jean-Yves Lamoureux (RC)
  • Lamoureux Mary (RM, formerly RC)
  • Vincent Lamoureux (RM), a member of Vignerons Indépendants and Terra Vitis. The vintage Champagne is composed of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay.
  • Laurenti (RM), has 40 ha of their own vineyards.
  • Didier Leducq (RC)
  • Pascal Manchin (RM)
  • Jean-Pierre Marchand (RC)
  • Thierry Patrois (RC, Facebook page), whose range includes a vintage Champagne.
  • Morel Père & Fils (RM), has 7.5 ha vingårdar. The vintage Champagne is composed of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay from old vines.
  • Morize Père & Fils (RM), has vineyards with about 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay. Besides the regular vintage Champagne, there is Sélection, a vintage Champagne composed primarily of Chardonnay (95% in the 2002 vintage) and the rest Pinot Noir.
  • Péhu-Guiardel & Fils (RM), has vineyards in Rilly-la-Montagne, Verzenay, and Les Riceys.
  • Pélissot Père & Fils (RM), member of Vignerons Indépendants since 2013, with 6 ha of vineyards.
  • Alain Phlipaux (RM)
  • Phlipaux Père & Fils (RM)
  • Michel Puissant (RM)
  • Valéry Robert (RM)
  • Alain Sonnet (RC)
  • Arnaud Tabourin (RM). The range includes a vintage Champagne.
  • R. Vallet-Gadret (RM)
  • Pascal Walczak Père et Fils (RM), member of the Vignerons Indépendants with 10 ha of vineyards in Les Riceys with 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. The annual production is 80 000-90 000 bottles. Cuvée Cyries is a vintage Champagne composed of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir (refers to the 2011 vintage).
  • Yvan Walczak (RM)

Comment: the list may be incomplete.

Cooperatives

When bottles are sold directly by a cooperative the producer status is given as CM = coopérative de manipulation, as opposed to RC when sold by a cooperative member under their own name.

The two southernmost of Champagne are located in Les Riceys:

  • Cave Coopérative des Riceys, a cooperative in Les Riceys founded in 1922 (then by 14 growers), today with 55 members with 95 ha of vineyards. Since it is the southernmost of the two in the commune, it is also the very southernmost cooperative of the wine region. The bulk of the production is forwarded to the major cooperative Union Auboise in Bar-sur-Seine (78% in 2011), which has its own brand, Devaux, as well as is one of three cooperatives behind Jacquart (and its secondary brand Montaudon) in Reims. They also sell some amount of their own Champagnes under the brand:
    • Marquis de Pomereuil, about 65 000 bottles annually (as of 2011). The range includes two vintage Champagnes: Les Fondateurs composed by 66% Chardonnay and 34% Pinot Noir, and a Blanc de Blancs.
  • Coopérative Viticole Les Riceys

The chuch Église Saint-Pierre-ès-Liens in Ricey Bas. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Claude PIARD, 2009).

Video clip

Video showing vineyards in Les Riceys.

Links

© Tomas Eriksson 2016, last update 2016-07-02

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