South of the Montagne de Reims and west of Epernay, lies the second region on our stop, the Vallee de la Marne, or the Marne Valley. Here, the Marne river provides a focal point to this region, as it flows westward past the important wine producing villages of Marueuil-sur-Ay, Ay, and Cumieres. In fact, many vineyard sites flank both sides of the Marne River. The Marne Valley is also the largest grape-growing district, with approximately two-thirds of its total planting devoted to Pinot Meunier.
Due to the fact that the topography here is flatter and lower than say the Montagne de Reims, the region is more susceptible to spring frosts. For this reason, the late-budding Pinot Meunier is often the varietal of choice here. In addition, the Pinot Meunier’s often times more fruity characteristics are an important component towards crafting balanced and approachable wines in Champagne. Although the Marne Valley does not possess the number of Grand Cru villages of its neighbors to either the north or south (Montagne de Reims or Cote de Blancs), this region certainly takes care of business, (thank you Elvis) as evidenced by the wines you’ll taste from the likes of over-achieving grower-producers listed below.
Leclerc Briant is one such domaine, producing a range of single vineyard, super site specific Champagnes, while also practicing biodynamic viticulture.
Important villages located east to west:
Hautvillers (of Dom Perignon fame)
Important Grower -Producers located in the Vallee de la Marne:
Gaston Chiquet (Dizy)
Leclerc Briant (Cumieres)
Rene Geoffroy (Cumieres)
Bruno Michel (Pierry)
Perhaps the quintessential example of an over-achieving Vallee de la Marne Champagne is found in Tarlant’s Cuvee Louis. All one need do is check out the back label (see below) to understand how much time and devotion are spent towards the production of this wine. At nine years on the lees, this deep, rich and profound wine is one that can definitely run with the big dogs and wines at twice, or even thrice the price.
Check out this righteous endorsment at the top of this back label..
I never get tired of this Champagne either! -Mumu