For our fourth and fifth stops on the Champagne trail, we leave the Cote de Blancs and head dircectly south, to the Cote de Sezanne, and then even further still to Champagne’s final frontier, the Cote des Bar/Aube. We are not in Kansas anymore!
Cote de Sezanne:
The Cote de Sezanne is a region that has garnered considerable interest since the 1960’s when it only truly began producing wines in commercial volume. Located directly south of the Cote de Blancs, and extending to the edge of the Seine river, the Cote de Sezanne is planted predominantly to chardonnay on a stretch of east facing vineyard sites. Although you won’t hear of any superstar domains based in this region, in fact numerous producers located in Champagnes “big three” regions to the north have enthusiastically invested in vineyard sites in the Cote de Sezanne in order to compliment and ramp up their overall Champagne production.
This most southerly outpost of Champagne is located about a 2 hours drive from Epernay. Indeed, the climate and topography differ markedly from say the Cote de Blancs or the Montagne de Reims. In fact, the famous Burgundian region of Chablis is located only a short 40 minute drive from the Aube.
What sets the Aube and the rest of Champagne apart aside from the distance? For one thing, the climate here is categorized as semi-continental, and warmer than it’s neighbors to the north. In addition, the soils of the Aube tend to be more nutrient rich and less chalk-laden than vineyards located in the Cotes de Blancs, Marne Valley or the Montagne de Reims. Gently rolling hills, the influence of the Seine and Aube rivers, and generally south facing vineyards are capable of producing rich, albeit more fruit driven and fleshy champagnes that are an absolute joy to imbibe.
One such example which immediately comes to mind is Fleury’s deep, rich and juicy rose, made from 100% pinot noir (the grape of choice in the Aube) which is produced a la saignee-or bleed from red skinned grapes being pressed after extensive skin contact. Although this method is utilized commonly for the production of rose still wine, it is much less common in the region of Champagne, as most producers will craft a pink champagne with the addition of still red wine during the vinification process.
Important villages in the Cote de Sezanne:
Important villages in the Aube:
Troyes (actually, halfway between the Cote de Sezanne and the Aube)
Les Riceys (home of Champagne’s A.O.C. Rose des Riceys)
Important Grower -Producers located in the Aube:
Dosnon & Lepage
To be honest, I have never tasted wines from Serge Mathieu. However, these folks have as their Champagne calling card one of the quirkiest, irreverant and most inventive wine websites I have encountered. Animated tractors, flying grapes and the propietor dressed as a snowman..even the kid’s will love watching it! I am now obssessed with finding and tasting these wines. More to come!