France | Vallée de la Marne, Champagne
The Marne Valley growing region of Champagne commences on one side at Tours-sur-Marne and on the other side at Epernay. It extends towards Paris along the two banks of the Marne River, but mainly on the right bank with exposure to the south and south-east. Most of the vineyards in this region plant the Pinot Meunier grape variety which grows very quickly, thanks in part to the location on the Marne River and produces highly prized lighter, fresher wines that serve balance to the blends.
Aÿ is a famous Grand Cru village located at the centre of the Grand Vallée de la Marne and is home to famous Champagne houses that include: Bollinger, Gosset, Ayala and Deutz. Renowned for its Pinot Noir, or the Pinot Vert Doré as it is known locally, Aÿ produces remarkable wines with exceptional body and finesse.
Hautvillers, is home to the Benedictine abbey Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers and is where the monk Dom Pierre Pérignon worked as cellar master. Contrary to poular myth Dom Pérignon did not invent the art of Champagne-making.
The Epernay region is likewise given over to the Pinot Meunier, with old and young vines alike occupying vineyard slopes that extend in one direction from Epernay to Ablois by way of Pierry; and in the other from Brugny-Vaudancourt to Mancy, forming a semicircular sweep of steeply sloping vineyards. The wines reflect their picturesque landscape, offering good body and a distinctive freshness that is much sought after by Champagne blenders.