Champagne village profile: Colombey-les-Deux-Églises in the Bar-sur-Aubois and the easternmost of all villages

diagram-colombey-les-deux-eglises-201702Key facts

Located in subregion/area: Côte des Bar / Bar-sur-Aubois
Vineyards and grape varieties: 41.4 hectares (102.3 acres), of which 85% Pinot Pinot, 11% Chardonnay, and 4% Pinot Meunier.
Classification: ”Autre cru” (80%)

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 black and red line is the departemental border between Haute-Marne (where Colombey-les-Deux-Églises is located) and Aube. The map shows the borders of Colombey-les-deux-Églises (the current commune déléguée) before the merger on 1 January 2017.


Google Maps view with the villages in the Bar-sur-Aubois 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

North: Rizaucourt-Buchey
Northwest: Rouvres-les-Vignes
West: Lignol-le-Château

Vy över Colombey-les-Deux-Églises

View of Colombey-les-Deux-Églises. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo OD02fr, 2011).

The village

Colombey-les-Deux-Églises is located in the western part of the Haute-Marne department, on the border to the Aube departement. Colombey-les-Deux-Églises is one of two villages within the Champagne appellation located in the Haute-Marne departement, and the easternmost of them. The other is the neighbouring village Rizaucourt-Buchey.

The suffix -les-Deux-Églises means “(with) two churches” and was added once upon a time to differentiate this village from several other villages called Colombey. One of these two churches was a monasterial church which was turned into a residential house following the French Revolution. Thus, despite its name this village only has had one church for quite some time. Several of the surrounding hamlets have their own churches, though, but they weren’t part of the deux.

On 1 January 2017, Colombey-les-Deux-Églises was merged with the neighbouring commune Lamothe-en-Blaisy to form the new commune Colombey les Deux Églises, which is explained below. This article focuses on Colombey-les-Deux-Églises per 31 December 2016.

Colombey-les-Deux-Églises (as it used to look) covers 7363 hectares and has 663 inhabitants (as of 2014), referred to as Colombéens and Colombéennes.

Väggdekoration i turistbyrån i Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, med scener ur Charles de Gaulles liv.

Wall decoration in the tourism agency in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, featuring scenes from the life of Charles de Gaulle. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo KA PS, 2007).

Commune merger

On 1 January 2017, Colombey-les-Deux-Églises was merged with the smaller neighbouring commune Lamothe-en-Blaisy to form the new commune Colombey les Deux Églises. The only difference in name is that the hyphens no longer seems to be used. Lamothe-en-Blaisy is not located within the Champagne appelation. It can be noted that the merger strangely enough didn’t include Curmont, with only 12 inhabitants in 2014, which now is completely surrounded by Colombey les Deux Églises.

The old communes each still exist as a commune déléguée within the merged commune, which is of the type commune nouvelle. This is a rather new type of merged commune which means that some functions are kept within the communes déléguées, rather than the former communes completely disappearing in the merged commune.

An earlier merger took place in 1972, when seven other communes were merged into Colombey-les-Deux-Églises (their location in relation to the central village is indicated within parentheses): Argentolles (north, close; here some of the Champagne producers are located), Biernes (northnortheast, semi-close), Blaise (northeast, beyond Champcourt), Champcourt (northeast, beyond Harricourt), Harricourt (northnortheast, beyond Biernes), Pratz (northnortheast, close), and Lavilleneuve-aux-Fresnes (west, close to Lignol-le-Château). This led to Colombey-les-Deux-Églises having a larger surface than most other communes in this area. The merged former communes have each contributed a hamlet to the larger commune.

The merged commune Colombey les Deux Églises covers 8384 hectares and has 736 inhabitants (as of 2014 in the former communes).

Monument över Charles de Gaulle i Colombey-les-Deux-Églises. Bilden länkad från Wikimedia Commons (foto KA PS, 2004).

Monument to Charles de Gaulle in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo KA PS, 2004).

Charles de Gaulle

In 1934, Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970) bought a property named La Brasserie in Colombey-les-deux-Églises, and renamed it La Boisserie. At this time he was a lieutenant colonel in the French army, and in World War II he became known as leader in exile of the Free French troops, and as the president of France 1959-1969.

de Gaulle often received guests in Colombey-les-deux-Églises, so he was strongly associated with this village already in his lifetime. He lived in Colombey-les-deux-Églises until his death in 1970, and is buried here. In 1972, a monument was erected in the village, shaped as a huge Cross of Lorraine. This type of cross was as a symbol by the Free French forces in World War II.

When de Gaulle lived in this area, small grower Champagne production in the Côte des Bars was less common than today, and in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises there weren’t any growers at all. A large proportion of the grapes produced in the Côte des Bars were instead bought by the Champagne houses in and around Reims and Épernay. A Champagne house in the Côte des Bars which did provide Champagnes to de Gaulle in his latter years was Drappier in Urville, about 20 km away.

La Bosserie, Charles de Gaulles tidigare egendom i Colombey-les-deux-Églises. Bilden länkad från Wikimedia Commons (foto Arnaud 25, 2009).

La Boisserie, the property bought by Charles de Gaulles in Colombey-les-deux-Églises. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Arnaud 25, 2009).

Vineyards

Most of the vineyards in the Colombey-les-Deux-Églises commune are gathered in a block to the northwest of the central village itself (to the west of Argentolles), and they are continuous with those in Rouvres-les-Vignes. There are also vineyards further to the north of the central village, close to the border to Rizaucourt-Buchey and the D233 road, also close to the hamlets Biernes and Harricourt. It is here we find the easternmost vineyards within the Champagne appellation, at 4°54’23” east. A large portion of the vineyards are situated on mild south- to southwest-facing slopes. En stor del av vingårdarna utgörs av milda syd- till sydvästsluttningar. Pinot Noir is the most common grape variety, by a wide margin.

The current vineyard surface in the Colombey-les-Deux-Églises commune is 41.4 hectares (102.3 acres). There are 35.2 ha Pinot Pinot (85.0%), 4.5 ha Chardonnay (10.9%), and 1.7 ha Pinot Meunier (4.1%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 37 ha. There are 8 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

The first plantation rights in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises (or more precisely in Argentolles) were handed out in 1973, at least in the modern era. The same thing goes for the neighbouring commune, Rizaucourt-Buchey.

Future expansion plans

In the expansion proposed for the Champagne wine region/appellation with 40 new communes (on top of the current 319, while 2 are removed), two of the villages are Champcourt and Harricourt, which are part of the Colombey-les-Deux-Églises commune since 1972. Therefore, the proposal is slightly strange, since all other proposed villages are communes of their own.

My interpretation is therefore that the proposal means that new areas within  Colombey-les-Deux-Églises will be allowed vineyards in the future. The hamlets Harricourt and Champcourt are located in the northern part of the Colombey-les-Deux-Églises commune, straight east of Rizaucourt-Buchey along the D233 road. Champcourt is the easternmost of the two, and further to the east than those parts of Colombey-les-Deux-Églises where there are vineyards today. This means that the easternmost Champagne vineyards will move slightly to the east once the expansion has finished. Champcourt is located at 4°57′ east.

Kyrkan i småbyn Harricourt, Église Saint-Rémy. Bilden länkad från Wikimedia Commons (foto Peter Potrowl, 2005).

The church in Harricourt, Église Saint-Rémy. Harricourt is a hamlet within the Colombey-les-Deux-Églises commune since 1972, and is one of the villages proposed to get new vineyards. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Peter Potrowl, 2005).

Champagne producers

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.

  • Charles Gouthière & Fils (RM), see Saulcy. Also has an address in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises.
  • Mocquart-Esmard (RM), with the addition Jean-Pierre & Fils on the label, a member of Vignerons Indépedants with just under 6 ha of vineyards and an annual production of close to 45 000 bottles.
    History
    In 1973, the first plantation rights for vineyards in Argentolles were handed out. Roger Moquart and his son Jean-Pierre Moquart, who formerly had 0.6 ha in Lignol-le-Château, then moved here, planted the first vineyards and stated that they became the first full-time vine growers of Haute-Marne.
  • Christian Péligri (RM), has just over 11 ha of vineyards in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, Dolancourt, and Vindey. The range includes a vintage Champagne composed of 100% Chardonnay (at least in the 2010 and 2011 vintages). Link to a French TV clip (no subtitles) from the 2011 harvest at this producer’s.
  • Voillequin-Esmard (RM), has 2 ha of vineyards in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises and Rizaucourt-Buchey.

Comment: the list may be incomplete.

  • Cellier de Saint-Vicent in Argentolles presents and sells Champagnes from small growers in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises och Rizaucourt-Buchey and has a small museum.
Monument över Charles de Gaulle i Colombey-les-Deux-Églises. Bilden länkad från Wikimedia Commons (foto KA PS, 2004).

The church in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, Église Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption, with the tomb of Charles de Gaulles in the foreground. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Mathieudu68, 2014).

Links

Video clips

Presentation of Colombey-les-Deux-Églises from a French TV show (French audio, no subtitles):

Below, British comedians Flanders and Swann perform their 1963 song All Gall about Charles de Gaulle, where one of the lines mentions Colombey-les-Deux-Églises. The background was that United Kingdom’s application to the EEC (the forerunner of the EU) just had been stopped by a veto from France and de Gaulle, which meant that he was a prime target for saitre.

In the world of wine, Flanders and Swann is probably most known for their Have Some Madeira M’dear.

© Tomas Eriksson 2017

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