Champagne village profile: Bethon in the Sézannais

Key facts

Located in subregion/area: Côte des Blancs / Sézannais
Vineyards and grape varieties: 195.1 hectares (482.1 acres), of which 93% Chardonnay, 6.7% Pinot Noir, 0.6% Pinot Meunier, and 0.1% others.
Classification: “Autre cru” (87% and 85%).

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 red-black dashed linje is the departemental borders between Marne (where Bethon is located), Aube (where Villenauxe-la-Grande is located), and Seine-et-Marne (where Louan-Villegruis-Fontaine is located).


Google Maps view with the villages in the Sézannais 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

East: Chantemerle
Southwest: Montgenost
Comment 1: some of the communes on the map are not part of the Champagne appellation and therefore don’t have any village profiles.
Comment 2: the remaining link will be added when the profiles of that village has been added
.

The town hall (mairie) of Bethon. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo François Goglins, 2014).

The village

Bethon is located about 12 km southsouthwest of Sézanne, the central town of the area.

The Bethon commune covers 1523 hectares and has 285 inhabitants (as of 2014), referred to as Bethoniers and Bethonières.

Vineyards

The vineyards in the Bethon commune are located around the village, gathered in an east-west strip through the commune. The vineyards are continuous with those in Montgenost to the west and those in Chantemerle to the east. They are mostly situated on mild south-facing slopes. Chardonnay is the most common grape variety, by a wide margin.

The current vineyard surface in the Bethon commune is 195.1 hectares (482.1 acres). There are 180.6 ha Chardonnay (92.6%), 13.1 ha Pinot Noir (6.7%), 1.2 ha Pinot Meunier (0.6%), and 0.2 ha others (0.1%). Numbers from CIVC, as of 2013. In 1997, the vineyard surface was 193 ha. There are 159 vineyard owners (exploitants) in the commune.

I’ve seen it mentioned that Bethon was included in the Champagne appellation in 1962.

Higher rating for Chardonnay

On the now defunct échelle des crus scale, where 100% = grand cru, 90-99% = premier cru, and 80-89% = ”autre cru”,  a smaller number of villages were rated differently for white and black grapes, i.e., for Chardonnay (white) and for Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (black). The 12 villages in the Sézannais, including Bethon, were among these, with 87% for white grapes and 85% for black grapes, which in both cases meant ”autre cru”.

The church in Bethon, Église Saint-Serein. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo François Goglins, 2014).

Champagne producers

Champagne house/négociant

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.

  • Paul Laurent NM, (Facebook page), whose top Champagne is called l’Essentiel.
    History
    The negociant business called Paul Laurent was created in 1993, but the producer has a background in Gilbert Gruet, see below.

    Also sells/produces Champagnes under the brands:

    • Antoine Damont, an MA (marque d’acheteur)
    • Pierre Darcys, whis is sold by Asda in the UK.
    • Charles Vincent, an MA (marque d’acheteur)

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.

  • Dekeyne & Fils (Facebook page), has vineyards with 88% Chardonnay and 12% Pinot Noir. Cuvée Vieilles Vignes is a 100% Chardonnay from old vines, planted in 1962.
  • Xavier Gruet & Fils (RM), has just under 5 ha of vineyards. The range includes a vintage Champagne. The company name is André Gruet & Fils.
  • Dominique Jarry (RM), member of the small grower organisation SECRAIE with 8 ha of vineyards, of which 6 ha in Bethon and 2 ha in Charly-sur-Marne, and an annual production of 40 000 bottles. The top Champagne is called Cuvée Prestige and is a 100% Chardonnay from old vines.
    History
    André Jarry was initially a cooperative member, installed his own press in 1977, and started to sell Champagnes under the name André Jarry et fils 1982. Following André’s retirement, the name became Dominique Jarry.
  • J.Pascal Jarry & Fils (RM, Facebook page), also Jean-Pascal Jarry, with the company name Goldvine.
  • Thierry Triolet (RM), which has 11 ha of vineyards in Bethon, Villenauxe-la-Grande, and Montgenost, with 80% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir, and 5% Pinot Meunier. The vintage Champagne is called Les Vieilles Vignes and originates from old vines.
  • Vandier (RM), formerly Guy Vandier, which has 10 ha of vineyards. The range includes a vintage Champagne.

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.

  • Union Vinicole des Coteaux de Bethon (UVCB) is a cooperative in Bethon which has 102 members with about 120 ha of vineyards, of which 80% Chardonnay.
    History
    The cooperative was founded in 1967 by Gilbert Gruet, which was a small grower (RM) and sold his Champagne under the name G. Gruet & Fils (see below). At the start there were 30 members and Gruet provided the equipment. In the 1980s, the cooperative got their own equipment.

    Their own Champagnes are sold under the brands:

    • G. Gruet & Fils, the main brand whose range includes a vintage blanc de blancs. Not to be confused with the house Gruet in the village of Buxeuil.
    • Quentin Lebel
    • Linard-Gontier
  • Le Brun de Neuville (Facebook page) is a cooperative in Bethon with close to 170 members with 150 ha of vineyards, of which 88% Chardonnay, 11% Pinot Noir, and 1% Pinot Meunier. The vineyards are spread over seven villages. The annual production is about 450 000 flaskor, which should correspond to about a third of the harvest from the members’ vineyards. The vintage Champagne Grand Vintage is composed of 96% Chardonnay and 4% Pinot Noir (refers to the 2008 vintage; the 2006 vintage was composed of 94% Ch/6% PN). The Authentique series consists of non-vintage Champagnes that are cellared rather long under cork, unlike the more common crown capsule. The Lady de N. series also consists of non-vintage Champagnes in another bottle, are are sold with somewhat higher age.
    History
    The cooperative was founded in 1963 by 26 vineyard owners under the name of La Crayère. The brand is named for the family Le Brun, where a notable Madame Le Brun was the owner of Château de Bethon in the mid-19th century. The heiress of the château, Madame de Reviers, was among the founders of the cooperative.

    The Champagnes are also sold under the brand:

Former producers including spin-offs in the United States

  • Gilbert Gruet (NM), a producer founded in 1952 by Gilbert Gruet (1931-1999) and run by him and his wife Danielle. In 1967, he founded the cooperative UVCB, see above, and led this for a number of years. In 1983, he was traveling in the southwestern part of the United States and saw the possibilities of starting wine production in New Mexico, which ended up being Gruet Winery. In 1984, their first US vineyards were planted to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and the first sparkling wines (using the traditional Champagne method) were produced in the 1987 vintage and were launched in 1989. Two of Gilbert’s children (Laurent and Nathalie) and their families moved to New Mexico to run the company, while Gilbert and Danielle remained in France. Gruet Winery is considered as one of the best producers of sparkling wine in the US.
  • Georges Quinault (RM)

Château de Bethon. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo François Goglins, 2014).

Links

© Tomas Eriksson 2017, last update 2017-05-12

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