The ‘Locus Solus’ of Dom Pérignon

In the middle of the Montagne de Reims we can find Hautvillers, a small town surrounded by vineyards and place of pilgrimage to visit the tomb of the Dom Pérignon.

Isabel Chuecos-Ruiz. 14/04/2015
Hautvillers, village pilgrimage to visit the tomb of Dom Pérignon

A few months ago I went through Hautvillers, a small village 6km far from the capital of Champagne region: Épernay. Once there I looked for the site where was buried Dom Pérignon, the Benedictine monk famous for its discovery. I came to the abbey and a guard who was passing by told me that the monk was buried in a section of the abbey’s convent. A signboard said that they don’t receive any visit.

What would say the «mad and lonely» Dom Pérignon if he lifted his head and read baffled, the only version of his story on the web. Someone might have been tempted to invent a different one, but in 350 years no one did it, and since then we have become eternal copyists of the wine that he discovered. The apparent simplicity of that discovery doesn’t remove the merit to the monk of being a master who spent half of his lifetime trying to improve the conditions of a sparkling wine, the famous Champagne.

Plaque in the Abbey where Dom Pérignon is buried

Arrived at this stage, to one he is going through the head to reinvent the story and so I remembered Mr. Raymond Roussel, who invented stories from random words in a multitude of combinations. In one of his few novels «Locus Solus», he explains what happens one afternoon in which a scientist shows to his guests surrealist inventions.I imagine to Roussel rewriting the repeated monk’s story, taking elements of what happened that afternoon when Dom Pérignon discovered the mysterious and inexplicable bubbles and creating a story from that.

Of course he wouldn’t start saying: «In 1670 the monk Dom Pérignon discovered what nowdays is known as the Champagne Method, a method consisting of a second fermentation in the bottle and that he tried to understand, not to prove». Rather Roussel took any random word using its curios method based on phonetic combinations, so he managed to convert Dom Pérignon in more than a chef de cave of the 17th century.

Dom Pérignon in the hall of the winery Moët Chandon

What really happened to the monk you can read it on the net, but what I want to propound here is open a more creative door to the story of how and who discovered the champagne’s bubbles. After all we should create a new forms, or as César Aira would say, of «inventing ways of writing”. © Copyright Photos: Champagne & Business.


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