Everything Gourmet

Champagne Time with the Champagnes of Winemakers on the Mountain of Reims

Chardonnay grapes in Champagne, one of the three dominant grape varieties used in champagne-making. Photo ©Courtesy Champagne de Vignerons. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

This symbol of good cheer is the fruit of the hand of man that knew how to bend and shape the solid earth of France’s Champagne growing region. For it was three centuries of labour by men and women that turned a cold, humid landscape of relatively poor soil of almost pure chalk, responsible for the wine’s distinctive taste, into a world famous wine synonymous with celebration. Behind the name Champagne is a unique diversity of flavours and savours.

The art of champagne tasting. Photo ©Courtesy Champagne de Vignerons. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

And the association Champagne de Vignerons (Champagne of the Winemakers) brings together some 4,300 producers and cooperatives of champagne from the entire region offering the entire breath and depth of the region’s champagnes. The Champagne producing district or appellation d’origine contrôlée is very carefully defined. Champagne is made from the fermented and re-fermented juice of largely Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes grown on a group of select hillsides and slopes, the vast majority of which are concentrated in the department of the Marne, in and around the cities of Reims and Epernay. In this Champagne Time we bring to you the winegrowers of the Montagne de Reims (Mountain of Reims), a growing region located between the Vesle River and the city of Reims. Stay tuned for the other regions to be explored.

Photo ©Courtesy Champagne Alfred Tritant. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The Champagne Alfred Tritant is one of the great independent houses producing a dry fruity champagne and a fine pink champagne. The family has been working the land since 1930 and their champagnes reflect the character of their Grand Cru or great growth terroirs, a terroir is a French term used to describe the land and particular environment in a given wine-growing spot, of Bouzy and Ambonnay.

Photo ©Courtesy Champagne Houssart. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The Houssart family has been cultivating its vineyards and producing champagne for three generations now. Located in Chamery on the Mountain of Reims, the house’s champagnes are made with grapes from its Premier Cru or first growth vineyard. The wines are aged in wood before being bottled as champagne conferring upon them a distinctive personality.

Photo ©Courtesy Champagne Paques et Fils. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

Meanwhile since 1905 five generations of the Paques family have been laboring in the heart of their domain at Rilly-la-Montagne, a Premier Cru. They produce a smooth Blanc de Noirs, a white in color champagne that is produced from the two red grape varieties of the region, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Photo ©Courtesy Champagne Sadi Malot. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The family-owned house of Sadi Malot is where the fifth generation cultivates its vineyards of predominately Chardonnay grapes. The house is currently converting its Grand Cru domain to organic agriculture. The house’s Extra Brut and 2012 vintage are marked by the power of the terroir.

Photo ©Courtesy Champagne Yves Loison. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The house of Champagne Yves Loison has been cultivated by the same family for five generations now and their champagnes are elaborated in the Massif de Saint-Thierry, northeast of Reims, in soil that is a mixture of clay and chalky limestone, imparting upon them a distinctive character.
©The Gourmet Gazette

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