The Champagne of Louis XVI

The Aube vineyard, called the Côte des Bar, is the most southern vineyard of the five producing regions of Champagne: (1.Montagne de Reims, 2. Vallée della Marne, 3.Côte de Blancs, 4. Côte Sézanne 5. Côte des Bar). The Aube extends along the Riceys in: Bar-sur-Aube and Bar-sur-Seine and has about 6,500 hectares, ie more than 20% of the total AOC Champagne.

In the nineteenth century the Aube was an important and flourishing area with 22.912 hectares of vineyards in 1852. But it has been historically considered a subsidiary grape production area that supplied the northern Champagne in times of scarcity, or when champagne merchants refused to pay higher prices in the ‘official’ areas, a fact that on the other hand, no one likes to admit.

Photo: ® Isabel Chuecos-Ruiz

From this frustration was born the desire for recognition that led to the vignerons from South in 1911, to start revolts against the North in which they complained of being excluded from the initial delimitation Champenoise from 1908 and claimed their membership in the classification. Finally in 1927, in the official demarcation of the vineyard Champenoise, Aube is also included.

But the department of Aube is different in regards to their terroir when compared with the department of Marne, from which most champagnes come from. From the Vallée de la Marne to the west in Chateau-Thierry are Cretaceous soils and if we head south the land is halfway between Tertiary and Cretaceous (in soil Avize, Vertus, Sézanne …), while the southernmost Aube vineyard is planted on Jurassic land.

Photo: ® Isabel Chuecos-Ruiz

I would put the focus on the interesting South of Champagne called ‘Les Riceys’

it is a characteristic village in the heart of the Côte des Bar, considered the largest Champagne vineyard with 866 hectares of vineyard, 2257 plots, about 288 vignerons and 2 cooperatives. Moreover Les Riceys wine is the only municipality where 3 AOC (Appellations contrôlées Champenoise) are recorded: Champagne, Coteaux Champenois and Rosé des Riceys
. The latter, the ‘Rosé des Riceys’, is considered one of the best rosés of France, made exclusively from a noble variety such as Pinot Noir, which occupies almost 95% of the slopes in the region.

Rosé of Riceys pink champagne considered a high quality wine, was already present in Versailles at the table of the King Louis XIV. Rosé wine that can be produced by two methods: as a blend of red wine and white wine (of Champagne) or by the method of saignée (bleeding) where the colour is obtained by maceration with the skins. Most vignerons of Les Riceys use the second method. The soil here is clay-calcareous, and Pinot Noirs are giving complex and profound aromas.

Photo: ® Isabel Chuecos-Ruiz

In April every year the ‘Wine Competition canton des Riceys’ takes place and has particapants like: Champagne Olivier Horiot Sève Barmont 2008 in Blanc category Noirs and Champagne Jean-Jacques Lamoureux Cuvée Rosé in the category Rosé, Champagne Michel Chevrolat Florale Cuvée des Riceys, Champagne Clergeot Daniel Cuvee Prestige des Riceys, Champagne Goussard & Dauphin d’Avirey-Lingey Millésimé 2004 in the categories Blanc de Blanc, Cuvée spéciale and Millesimé, between others. When you think of a Rosé champagne do not forget the pink of ‘Les Riceys’.

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