Hautvillers, a typically Champagne village whose hillsides are listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, is the cradle of champagne.
A UNESCO world heritage site
If there is a place where the word Champagne takes on its full meaning, it is Hautvillers, a typically Champagne village whose hillsides are listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. Hautvillers is the cradle of Champagne. It was here that a certain Dom Pérignon developed the Champagne method, which made Champagne wine the king of wines. His grave covered with an epitaph is still visible in the abbey church. More than twenty winegrowers, worthy heirs of Dom Pérignon, welcome you today to their cellars and their farms to share with you their passion for vines and wine, present their vintages to you, and teach you how to crack champagne.
Dom Perignon revolutionized the techniques of Champagne
The vines cover 285 ha (41% Pinot Meunier, 41% Pinot Noir, 18% Chardonnay), worked by 141 operators including some major brands (Moët & Chandon, Roederer, Taittinger). But what would Hautvillers be without Dom Pérignon, the Grand Cellarkeeper of the village abbey who created, around 1681, the first Champagne bubbles, at least those which revolutionized the techniques of this exceptional wine ? Here, we are in the cradle of the Champagne legend. Indeed, it is here, in the former Benedictine abbey of Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers, founded in the year 650 and pillaged nearly 17 times, that a young monk of 30 years old arrived in 1668. He is a Benedictine monk, he goes by the name Dom Pérignon and he has a head full of ideas. Is he not returning from a pilgrimage to the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Hilaire where he discovered the method of vinifying sparkling wines from Limoux ? Did he also know that he would hold the position of cellarer-intendant (bursar) of this abbey until his death in 1715. A genius oenologist, he developed the method of champagnemaking wine right here. It is thanks to his observations and experiments that we owe the cork-popping wine that the whole world is trying to copy; innovations that revolutionized all the techniques of the time.
The tradition of iron signs
Alone or with passionate volunteer guides, you can also go back in history and discover the ancient heritage of the village by walking through its streets lined with winegrowers’ houses and admiring the 140 beautiful wrought iron signs which evoke the trades of yesteryear. The tradition is inherited from the Middle Ages, a time when each shop had its own sign to signal its activity to a population with a high rate of illiteracy. Several brands in the village have stood the test of time, giving Jean Couten, mayor of the town in the 1960s, the idea to revive fashion. The councilor dreamed of seeing a hundred signs along the streets to give even more character to the village and, with his ambition, to make it a tourist attraction. A good number of brands evoke the world of champagne and wine, but the approach now goes well beyond that. The village café and school have their own brand. A number of trades are also represented as well as the origins or passions of the inhabitants. Thanks to its elevated location, the village will offer you a magnificent view of the hillsides which descend towards the Marne river.