Champagne Emmanuel Rigollot

Hidden away in the wild Champagne region, the Rigollot estate is a well-kept secret among wine-lovers.

In this Côte des Bar with its Chablis-like character, Emmanuel Rigollot makes wines in the purest Champagne tradition. The lightness and freshness for which Champagne is renowned are expertly brought to life by unusually long aging.

The wild Côte des Bar

For any wine-lover venturing to explore the vineyards of Champagne, there is no more striking contrast than that between the north and south of the region. The Marne valley, located just 1 h 30 from Paris, is a succession of villages whose proximity reflects intense activity along the river. Once a hub of riverboat trade, it is now focused on vineyards that occupy the hillsides overlooking the river. This valley, a true axis leading towards Épernay, unfolds through a series of landscapes shaped by human hands. This is as true of the valley as it is of the Côte des Blancs, the most renowned terroir of the entire appellation. Villages follow one another along the vines that extend to the edge of the woods, occupying only the hilltops. The Montagne de Reims, though dotted with a nature park, also flirts with the vast cereal fields of Reims.

The comparison is shocking. Once you arrive in the Côte des Bar, this southern part of Champagne is often less known. The landscape immediately becomes wilder, dotted with deep forests and rivers. Far from reigning supreme, the vineyards coexist with fields and forests in a more pronounced relief. The village of Bergères, historic stronghold of the Rigollot family, is part of this region's villages that one does not discover by chance but with a clear objective in mind. For us, the goal was simple: to discover some of the winemakers of this forgotten valley, whose profile is sometimes so close to that of nearby Chablis.

Emmanuel Rigollot champagne

At first glance, nothing seems to distinguish this house from its neighbors. It has a family winemaking history inherited from grandparents who already cultivated vines in their time.Then came the parents' era, who took over the winemaking activity and made the logical choice to produce their own champagnes, bringing that personal touch that defines a house style. Eventually, it was Emmanuel's turn to take over the reins. Gradually, he made this heritage his own, based on habits and knowledge inherited from long observation of the terroir. This transition was not abrupt but rather smooth; why change a recipe that already works? The choice was even made to anchor ourselves in a typically Champagne style, seeking freshness and roundness in the wines, the best guarantee of a pure expression of the fruit's aromas.

Beyond certification

Sustainable Viticulture in Champagne (VDC), High Environmental Value certification levels 1, 2, 3... These are just some of the labels that more and more Champagne houses increasingly collect. There is a need for transparency, certainly, and the determination of the general union of champagne winegrowers to push towards eco-responsible viticulture is clear. But how does one navigate this jungle of appellations and certifications? Far from limiting itself to the labels it has obtained, the Rigollot estate has decided to go its own way in terms of sustainability, and even beyond. Since 2009, the vines have received only organic fertilizers and not a single drop of insecticide, and 50% of the estate's 6.8 hectares are weeded by hand. This proves that working in harmony with nature is primarily a matter of fieldwork rather than certifications.