The Champenois vineyard is divided into four main areas, also known as macro-regions: Montagne de Reims; Vallée de la Marne; Côte des Blancs; Côte des Bar or Aube; with 17 communes classified as "Grand Cru" and 44 classified as "Premier Cru".
We begin our tour of the Champagne Region, the first of four appointments, by retracing the characteristic features of the first macro-region, Montagne de Reims. If in the article we wrote some time ago (Its Highness, the Champagnes of Montagne de Reims) we focused on its chalky terroir and the influence this has on the structure and energetic character of the Champagnes of the area, today we are going to try to give you an all-round presentation of this unique territory.
With a total of 7,966 hectares under vine and a surface area of 30 km (east to west) x 10 km (north to south), Montagne de Reims is not a true massif, but rather a vast hilly area, not exceeding three hundred metres in height. This territory, which stretches between Reims and Epernay, is characterised by dense forests and on its fertile slopes lie vineyards, of which the Pinot Noir makes it illustrious, especially among the Grand Crus.
Characterized by 40.5% Pinot Noir, 33% Meunier and 26.4% Chardonnay, they have both northern and southern exposures, enjoying a climate influenced by a dual influence, mainly oceanic but with a tendency towards a continental climate, with the forest acting as a thermal regulator. The peculiarity of this area is that it is located at the northern limit of vine cultivation: Reims is at 49.5° north latitude, Epernay at 49°, considering that, in the northern hemisphere, it is difficult to obtain quality grapes north of the 50° parallel and south of the 20°.
Of the 94 communes in the Montagne de Reims, 9 are classified as Grands Crus (Ambonnay, Beaumont-sur-Vesle, Bouzy, Louvois, Verzy, Mailly-Champagne, Puisieulx, Sillery and Verzenay) and 25 as Premiers Crus. Ambonnay, Bouzy, Verzy, Louvois and Mailly-Champagne with their southern vineyards are famous for Pinot Noir, while the northern vineyards are also favoured for Chardonnay, such as the Grand Cru of Puisieulx, Sillery, Beaumont-sur-Vesle and Verzenay.
We can only conclude our tour of the Champagne of Montagne de Reims by telling you about 6 Vignerons of character, revelations of this rich and profound place. Champagne to try, why not also during the holiday season.
The Rousseaux family has been associated with the world of Champagne since the 1700s; today, the management of Domaine Jacques Rousseaux is run by Céline Rosseaux and her brother Eric, the latest generation. The Champagne Extra-Brut L'Autre R, is made from 100% Pinot Noir from old vineyards located near Verzenay village, 100% Grand Cru of Montagne de Reims. Pale gold in colour with wheat-yellow highlights, the nose is initially toasty and vanilla, and then surprises with notes of black cherry, raspberry liqueur, pomegranate, redcurrant and blackberry.
The Rodez Family has also been growing grapes for over three centuries, Eric Rodez represents the latest generation and, after several years working at Maison Krug, he now manages the estate of around 6 hectares in the Grand Cru in Montagne de Reims. His Champagne Les Beurys 2013 is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes from vines over 35 years old from the homonymous plot (Lieu-Dit) located in Ambonnay, a village classified 100% Grand Cru. Sensual and particularly mineral Champagne.
Adrien Renoir, Vincent Renoir son, joined the family Domaine in 2014. Adrien is a true vigneron of the new generation who works his vineyards following the principles of organic and biodynamic viticulture. Vinification in oak barrels where fermentation takes place spontaneously with indigenous yeasts, long maturation on the lees with as little intervention as possible (without refining or filtering). Its winey and intense Champagne Extra Brut Les Epinettes 2017 is made from 100% Pinot Noir from the homonymous plot (Lieu-Dit) of vines over 40 years old located in Verzy, a Grand Cru village in Montagne de Reims.
In Taissy, a village south of Reims, in Montagne de Reims area, is located the Domaine Jules Brochet, run by Pierric Brochet, a young winemaker with experience at Domaine Jacques Selosse. His Champagne Brut Nature Prémice is a blend of 50% Chardonnay from the terroir of Taissy and 50% Pinot Noir from the Grand Cru of Mailly. Harvest base 2018 with the addition of 20% vin de réserve, spontaneous fermentation for this delicate and balanced Champagne. Produced in a limited and numbered quantity of just 1,358 bottles, it could prove to be a real find as a Champagne for the festive season.
Domaine Lelarge-Pugeot owes its current success to Dominique Lelarge who, together with Dominique Pugeot, his partner at the Burgundy School of Viticulture, took over the management of the family estate and founded the current Lelarge-Pugeot. Certified organic and in conversion to biodynamics, the production of the Domaine, now in its eighth generation, aims to create sincere and authentic cuvées, results of a great terroir. The Champagne Extra-Brut Quintessence 2008, 70% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir and 10% Meunier from 40 year old vineyards classified as Premier Cru in Vrigny, after a natural fermentation in barrels, spends 11 years on its lees. An elegant but powerful wine well balanced by minerality with notes of flowers, white and yellow fruits and toasted bread.
Domaine Egly-Ouriet produces only grapes from its 11.5 hectares of vineyards, the largest of which are in Ambonnay, the home of Pinot Noir, and the others in Bouzy, Verzenay and Vrigny. It was also one of the first to produce a pure Pinot Meunier from its 2-hectare property in Vrigny, classified as Premier Cru. His Champagne Les Vignes de Vrigny is in fact made from 100% Meunier grapes, 20% of which are vins de réserve; it comes exclusively from his vineyards in Vrigny, a commune classified Premier Cru.
Discover here the selection of GLUGULP! Champagnes