The Champagne region is so famous for its sparkling wines that we could almost forget it also produces still wine.
Extreme high quality, these wines are neglected by the big Champagne houses and only produced by a few winegrowers. The quantities bottled are therefore minimal and production can be reduced even further depending on the year.
The Champagne coteaux are exceptional wines, taut, subtle, and chiselled, whose reputation for quality is well established, even rivaling some of the great wines of Burgundy!
The Champagne region is primarily known for its sparkling wine production, but a small number of winegrowers also produce traditional "still" wines. These are the Champagne coteaux.
This PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) is authorised throughout the Champagne region, although it is produced in very small quantities.
Contrary to what one may think, the invention of champagne is relatively recent with regard to the region's viticultural history.
Sparkling champagne as we know it today was invented in the 17th century by a Benedictine monk, Dom Pérignon, when he introduced a method of foaming that was well known in other French regions. Champagne was just a new variation on the wines produced in Champagne, and for good reason!
From the Gauls to the the Roman period and the conversion of Clovis in Reims, vine cultivation has always played a central role in Champagne, both culturally and festively. In the 13th century there were no less than 164 monasteries in the region, each with its own vineyard.
Despite this long still wine tradition in the Champagne region, the dazzling success of sparkling wines almost got the better of the Champagne coteaux. Almost forgotten on the eve of World War II, the coteaux obtained their PDO (red, white and rosé) in 1974, thanks to a handful of passionate winegrowers.
Champagne coteaux can be made throughout the Champagne region. One often finds the name of the commune and the terroir from which the wine is made, the most famous being undoubtedly Bouzy (known for the quality of its Pinot Noir).
The vast majority of Champagne coteaux are made by blending different years. It is therefore even rarer to find vintage wines. Champagne coteaux are aged for at least two years in oak barrels and are made from the same grape varieties as those used for sparkling wines: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
Clearly, the Champagne coteaux are now niche wines, produced only by the most passionate winemakers in the Champagne region. Making wine is above all a matter of pleasure. And this is all the more true when this still wine is produced in Champagne, usually the exclusive domain of sparkling wines!
An increasing number of young and not so young winemakers are interested in the potential of such wines. Many of them are also interested in Burgundy.
While the Pinot Noirs from Aÿ and Bouzy and the Pinot Meunier from Mareuil are by far the best known of these wines, the Chardonnays from the Côte des Blancs remain the real unicorns of the PDO, virtually impossible to find...
The still wines produced in Champagne benefit from the ideal conditions offered by the region's unique climate. The perfect exposure of this vineyard and its predominantly chalky soils provide the ideal humidity and natural freshness to produce wines of exceptional finesse.
The Champagne coteaux are supple wines with raspberry aromas for the reds. The white Champagne coteaux are lively and fresh wines.