Friday, May 21, 2010

Debate a Bubble - Visiting Champagne - Hautvillers and Dom Pérignon

Debate a Bubble - Visiting Champagne - Hautvillers and Dom Pérignon

Link to Debate a Bubble - Champagne News and Reviews

Visiting Champagne - Hautvillers and Dom Pérignon

Posted: 21 May 2010 03:36 AM PDT

If you ever visit Champagne you'll quickly discover that there are hundreds of villages where champagne is made, 323 of them in fact, at least that's the number I've been told.

With all these to choose from how do you decide which to visit?

From village to Abbey October 2009 Well, there's one that you really shouldn't miss out and that's Hautvillers; not only is it a pretty village with a stupendous view, it also has a special place in the history of champagne because the abbey of Hautvillers, is where Dom Pérignon lived and worked

If you're a champagne lover you will have heard of Dom Pérignon. Lots has been written about him and what he did, but for now let's just focus on the village and the abbey.

The history of the Abbey of Hautvillers stretches back over 1300 years to its foundation some time around 650 A.D. by Bishop Nivard of Reims, grandson of King Clotaire II and nephew of another king called Dagobert – no need to remember them because they're hardly household names these days.

Now we'll skip forward about a thousand years during which the fortunes of the abbey ebbed and flowed many times. On at least four occasions the abbey was sacked and burned by invading armies only to be built and restored, on one occasion thanks to the financial help of no less than Catherine de Medici - talk about having friends in high places!

In 1668 a young Benectine monk named Pierre Pérignon was put in charge of the day to day running of the abbey.

Born into a staunchly middle class family, this 29 year-old was to guide the material fortunes of the abbey for the next 47 years until his death in 1715.

During the time of Dom Pérignon the abbey and especially the traditions of wine-growing and Up the steps to the Abbey wine-making which were a fundamental part of life at the abbey as well as in the surrounding region, developed and prospered out of all recognition.

Then in 1791 in the turmoil of the French Revolution, the abbey was dissolved and its goods and possessions scattered far and wide.

It was not until 1823 that the fortunes of the abbey took a turn for the better when Pierre-Gabriel  Chandon de Brialles, son-in-law of Jean-Remy Moët, resolved to restore the famous abbey.

Thanks to Pierre-Gabriel and his descendants the abbey flourished yet again and was turned into a text-book model of good agricultural practice

History intervened yet again in the 20th century when, just as they had done in times gone by, invading armies marched across the plains of Champagne and the region was ravaged by battles once more.

Although the abbey seems to have escaped damage in the First World War, it was badly damaged during the Second World War and in 1941 the abbey and the estate were sold to Moët & Chandon who them it to this day.

Church in Hautvillers October 2009 When you visit Hautvillers you'll find that the abbey is not open to the public – it's used by Moët & Chandon for private visits, but you can visit the church next door and see the plaque in the floor that marks Dom Pérignon's resting place.

Hautvillers has got to be one of the prettiest vilages in Champagne. It's perched on a hillside overlooking Epernay and the Marne River below and it's a superb view point.

Added to this the local champagne makers have made a real effort to decorate their homes with wrought irons signs above the doors.

There are a few (not many) shops and a café plus a restaurant. Last time I was in Hautvillers the café was closed and the restaurant left a little to be desired, but maybe this is splitting hairs.

The point is that Hautvillers should definitely be on your list of places in to visit Champagne.

To finish off here are a few more pictures to whet your appetite

Boulangerie Hautvillers October 2009 Towards Epernay from Hautvillers October 2009 Vigneron sign October 2009

Café d'Hautvillers October 2009   Antique shop Hautvillers October 2009

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