In the first video we mentioned that Villers-Marmery is a village well worth getting to know.
Here are a couple of reasons that make it rather unusual:
First, although Villers-Marmery is officially in the Montagne de Reims part of the Champagne region where by far the most widely planted grape varietal is Pinot Noir,
Villers-Marmery is one of just four villages in this area - the other three villages are Trépail, Billy-Le-Grand and Vaudemange - that have a majority of Chardonnay vines planted (90% or more)
The soil in Villers-Marmery is more predominently chalky than in the rest of La Montagne de Reims, so much so that in many places the chalk is right at the surface – you can pick chunks up from the ground and use it immediately to write with.
This means that this little area is well-suited making Blanc de Blancs champagnes, unlike the full, fruity Pinot Noir driven champagnes you find in the of La Montagne de Reims.
The second thing about these four villages is that they are located right at the end of La Montagne de Reims at the point where the hillside curves round in a big arc towards the south and west and so these villages have exactly the same south-east exposure to the sun as La Côte des Blancs, further south, which is considered to be the home of Chardonnay and Blanc de Blancs champagne
Take a look at the map below and you’ll see what we mean.
The four villages of Villers-Marmery, Billy-Le-Grand, Trépail) and Vaudemange thatmake up this little enclave are circled in red.
The dotted red line shows the exposure of the vineyards and you can see that it’s exactly the same as La Côte des Blancs further down.
So what can you expect from the champagnes from Villers-Marmery and the other three villages?
Well, champagnes from here have the light, bright, delicate style of Blanc de Blancs champagnes plus a touch of the fruitiness of the Pinot Noir. You could say they combine the best of both worlds and people who normally find some Blancs de Blancs from La Côte des Blancs to be too sharp, too dry and a little astringent may well find those from Villers-Marmery to be ‘just right’.
In fact the locals have even invented a word to describe their Chardonnay grapes. They say that ils pinotent in other words they behave like Pinot Noir grapes.