Reims – the largest city in Champagne, part 4: cooperatives, small producers, former producers

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

The profile is divided into four parts
Part 1: Basic facts
Part 2: Major Champagne houses, members of the Union des Maisons de Champagne (A-L)
Part 3: Major Champagne houses, members of the Union des Maisons de Champagne (M-Z)
Part 4: Other Champagne producers – cooperatives and small producers – and former producers

Champagne producers

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. ND = négociant-distributeur, which means that they at least partly sell Champagnes produced by someone else, but under their own name.

  • Binet, a house originally founded in 1849, which was relaunched in 2013. The Champagnes of the new Binet are produced in small volumes, include a high proportion of Pinot Noir, and are aimed at the luxury segment. The vintage Champagne is called Medaillon Rouge and is composed of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay (refers to the 2008 vintage, the premiere vintage for the new Binet; the cuvée name was originally introduced in 1865).
    History
    The house was founded by Louis Binet in Reims in 1849, then with a cellar in Verzenay. In 1876, his widow changed the name to Veuve Binet Fils & Co. In 1886, their activities including the cellar moved to new buildings on Rue de Courlancy in southern Reims, that are now used by Lanson. In 1928, the cellar activities moved to the Saint-Nicaise abbey in central Reims. In 1943, Binet was bought by Henri Germain in Rilly-la-Montagne, and the seller was Piper-Heidsieck. In 1985, Henri Germain and Binet was bought by Jean-Jacques Frey. In 1999, Frey sold Henri Germain to Vranken Monopole in Reims, but (initially?) kept ownership of the Binet brand. By the way, Binet has produced Champagnes for the well-known British wine merchant Berry Bros. & Rudd, under their own label, since 1887. A relaunch of Binet under new ownership started to be prepared in 2011, and the first new Champagnes were presented in 2013.
  • Drappier (NM, Facebook page) has cellars in Reims to store their best Champagnes there, but the main activities take place in the small village Urville, in Bar-sur-Aubois (Côte des Bar). See that village for a complete producer profile.
  • Martial-Couvreur (ND, Facebook page), has its company address in Reims but its main activities in Rilly-la-Montagne. See that village for a complete producer profile. The company name on the bottles is Couvreur-Dumas.

No longer existing Champagne houses

  • Forest-Fourneaux, ses Taittinger (part 3).
  • Médot & Cie (NM), grundades 1899 av Jules Médot och förblev i familjens ägo i fem generationer. Médot köptes 2002 av det dåvarande börsbolaget Charles de Cazanove i Épernay, som hade familjen Lombard som majoritetsägare och Thierry Lombard i spetsen, och som numera heter Lombard & Médot. (Varumärket Charles de Cazanove såldes nämligen 2003 till G.H. Martel och det Lombard-dominerade börsnoterade bolaget bytte då namn till Lombard & Médot.) Vid köpetillfället var Médots produktion ca 200 000 flaskor per år. Médot finns fortfarande kvar som ett varumärke (vid sidan av Lombard & Cie), och produceras av Lombard & Médot i Épernay; profil för det nuvarande Médot återfinns där. De har dock behållit Médots presshus i Pargny-lès-Reims. Médot framställde tidigare en årgångslös vingårdsbetecknad Pinot Noir-dominerad champagne vid namn Clos des Chaulins, en 0,68 ha vingård i Pargny-lès-Reims. Produktionen upphörde tydligen efter att de köptes av Lombard/Charles de Cazanove.
  • Médot & Cie (NM), founded in 1899 by Jules Médot and remained in family ownership for five generations. In 2002, Médot was bought by Charles de Cazanove in Épernay, then a company listed on the stock market with the Lombard family as the majority owner and led by Thierry Lombard, and is now used as a brand. The buying company is now called Lombard & Médot. (The Charles de Cazanove brand was sold in 2003 to G.H. Martel, and the Lombard-dominated company then changed its name to Lombard & Médot.) At the time of purchase, the annual production of Médot was about 200 000 bottles. Médot still exists as a brand (next to Lombard & Cie), and is produced by Lombard & Médot in Épernay. Profil for the current Médot can be found there. The press house of Médot in Pargny-lès-Reims has been kept by Lombard & Médot. Earlier, before the purchase by Lombard, the range included a vineyard-designated Champagne, Clos des Chaulins, from a 0.68 ha vineyard site in Pargny-lès-Reims. Production of it apparently stopped when they were bought by Lombard/Charles de Cazanove.

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.

  • Blanc-Bennezon (RC)
  • Frerejean Frères was founded in 2005 by three brothers Frerejean Taittinger. The Champagnes are from Grauves but the company address is Reims. See that village for a complete producer profile.
  • Picard & Boyer (RM) has 5 ha of vineyards, mostly in the Vallée de la Marne in the villages Châtillon-sur-Marne, Vandières, and Verneuil. The top cuvée is called Réserve de la Famille and is composed of 80% Chardonnay (vinified in oak barrels) and 20% Pinot Noir.
  • Philippe de Sorbon (RC), has 10 ha of vineyards in Verzenay, Verzy, Mailly, Ludes, Verneuil, and Moussy, with an annual production of 50 000 bottles. The vintage Champagne varies in composition: the 2011 vintage is a pure Chardonnay.

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.

  • de Castelnau (Facebook page) was originally a Champagne house founded in 1916 and named for Edouard de Curières de Castelnau, a French general in World War I. The house was bought in 2003 by a major cooperative, Coopérative Régionale des Vins de Champagne (CRVC), which was founded in 1962. Today (2018), the members of the cooperative have a total of 900 ha of vineyards, but only a minor part is used for the production of de Castelnau. In 2016, 790 000 were sold under the brand, but with a clearly increasing trend (2013: 355 000). The range includes two vintage Champagnes: a Millésimé of varying composition  (2003: 30% Ch/70% PN, 2004 and 2006: 50% Ch/20% PM/30% PN) and Blanc de Blancs using Chardonnay from the Montagne de Reims and the Côte des Blancs. Older vintages are sold in magnum under the name Collection Œnothèque (1995: 60% Ch/40% PN, 1996: 50% Ch/10% PM/40% PN, 1998: 40% Ch/40% PM/20% PN.) There is also a rather recently introduced Hors Categorie (its own website) which is produced using base wine from some good vintages that have been vinified in oak barrels. The batch bottled in 2011 and disgorged in 2015 was composed of 55% Pinot Noir, 28% Pinot Meunier, and 17% Chardonnay, of which one third each from 2010, 2009, and 2008.
    History from CRVC
    The CRVC cooperative was founded in 1962 by 24 vine growers, in a building belonging to the cooperative in Ville-Dommange. The Jacquart brand was created in 1964, see below. In 1968, they bought facilities on Rue de Mars in Reims, and moved in to them in 1969. In 1971, additional facilities on Rue Gosset were bought. From 1974, a series of investments were done to expand production. In 2003, the de Castelnau brand was bought. After building and expansion, in 2008 they reached a capacity to produce 13 million bottles annually, and to store 29 million bottles. Production in number of bottles selected years: 1968 – 540 000, 1971 – 2 000 000, 1978 – 3 700 000. In 2017, CRVC had 785 members, including 23 other cooperatives, with 900 ha vineyards. 

Hôtel Brimont, where Jacquart has its main offices. Picture linked from Wikimedia Commons (photo Andreas Ivarsson, 2010).

  • Jacquart (Facebook page) is a major cooperative founded in 1964, and which is a collaboration between the cooperatives COGEVI in Aÿ (with their own brand Collet), l’Union Auboise in Bar-sur-Seine (with their own brand Devaux), and COVAMA in Château-Thierry (with their own brand Pannier). The company behind it is called Alliance Champagne Jacquart – Union de Coopérative de la Champagne (UCC). Jacquart has its main officers in the Hôtel de Brimont, built in 1896. The grapes for their Champagnes are sourced from 350 ha of vineyards in over 60 villages. The cooperatives behind Alliance Champagne has a total of 2000 members with 2400 ha of vineyards, according to information from 2010. The range includes four vintage Champagnes: Mosaïque which is blended (the same name is also used for non-vintage cuvées), a Blanc de Blancs, and the prestige Cuvée Alpha in a white version and rosé version. The white Cuvée Alpha was launched in 2013 in the 2005 vintage and is composed of about equal proportions of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from grand cru and premier cru villages (2006: 50% Ch/50% PN, 2010: 60% Ch/40% PN). The rosé was launched in 2017 in the 2010 vintage (2010: 52% Ch/48% PN, of which 16% red wine). Jacquart shouldn’t be confused with the small grower André Jacquart in Vertus.
    • Montaudon is a brand which since 2010 is connected with Jacquart, i.e., owned by Alliance Champagne, after having earlier been its own house. The range includes a vintage Champagne which is composed of about equal proportions of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (2002: 53% Ch/47% PN, 2007: 45% Ch/55% PN) and the non-vintage prestige Champagne Classe M which is 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. Montaudon has for a long time had a press house in Avirey-Lingey in the Côte des Bar (Barséquanais), i.e., far south in Champagne.
      History
      Montaudon has a background as its own Champagne house. The Montaudon brand has a history back to 1891, when Auguste-Louis Montaudon moved to Épernay after having been winemaker at Bouvet-Ladubay in the Loire valley. The house proper was founded in 1935 in Épernay as Montaudon Fils by Auguste-Eugène Montaudon, who used to be winemaker at Maison Merand (later known as De Castellane). In the 1930s, the house marketed itself using its connection to the Paris cabaret scene, and e.g. produced a Champagne Josephine Baker. In 1958, the house moved to Reims and buildings in Rue Ponsardin. In 1990, the address instead became Rue de Verdun and in 2011 Boulevard Lundy. Philippe Montaudon who took over the house in 1978, bought 45 ha of vineyards in Avirey-Lingey (with surroundings?) in the Côte des Bar. The average sales volume in the period 2005-2010 was just over 2 million bottles annually. In 2008, a new production facility was opened in the Croix-Blandin industrial zone in Reims. In the end of 2008, the Montaudon family sold the house to Moët-Hennessy (LVMH) for 27 million euro. What was tempting primarily seems to have been grape contracts for 150-200 ha. The Montaudon family kept ownership of their 45 ha of vineyards, mostly in the Côte des Bars, but also in Verzenay, Verzy, Avize, Vertus, Épernay, and Bouzy. In the end of 2010, Montaudon was sold on to Alliance Champagne. The purchase included the brand, the production facility, and the stock of Champagne, but no grape contracts. This purchase helped the cooperatives to use a larger proportion of their grapes in Champagnes of their own, and to reduce their dependence on retailers’ brands. In mid-2011, Alliance Champagne sold the production facility in Croix-Blandin to Taittinger, effective 1 August 2012.

    Jacquart (UCC) has also produced Champagnes for e.g. the brands (MA = marque d’acheteur, byers’ own brand):

    • Antoine de Clevecy, which is sold by Sainsbury’s in the UK.
  • Les Celliers du Champ de Mars, a cooperative connected to Palmer & Co below.
  • Palmer & Co (Facebook page) is a cooperative founded in 1947. The members have 415 ha of vineyards (as of 2018), of which over 200 ha in grand cru and premier cru vineyards. A large proportion are in the Montagne de Reims, but some are in the Sézannais, the Côte des Bar, and the Vallée de la Marne. The vineyards are planted to 50% Chardonnay, 40% är Pinot Noir, and 10% Pinot Meunier. The high proportion of Chardonnay is explained by this cooperative being well represented on the Chardonnay-dominated east side of the Montagne de Reims, e.g. in the villages Trépail and Villers-Marmery. About half of their Chardonnay originates from the Montagne de Reims, and half from the Sézannais. Their range includes two vintage Champagnes, Vintage which is composed of 50-55% Chardonnay, 40-45% Pinot Noir, and 5-10% Pinot Meunier, as well as a vintage Blanc de Blancs. They usually release older vintages under the designation Collection, and they have stored away substantial amounts of back vintages, as well as filled rather much on larger format bottles. The non-vintage Amazone de Palmer is their prestige cuvée, is composed of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir sourced from their reserve wines. In some markets, Palmer has built a reputation for reasonable pricing in relation to their quality.
    History
    The cooperative was founded in 1947 in Avize as the Société des grands crus de la Champagne. The Palmer & Co brand was introduced in 1948. In 1959, facilities were bought at Rue Jacquart in Reims, having previously belonged to a Champagne house. In 1997, an additional nearby property was added, having belonged to another Champagne house. The cooperative expanded their membership to the Sézannais and the Côte des Bar in the 1970s, and in the 1980s their production passed one million bottles annually.

The Swedish version of this post.

© Tomas Eriksson 2018, last update 2019-01-07

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