Thursday, January 18, 2018

Champagne's Côte des Blancs (After Peter Liem)

In Champagne, Peter Liem states that the 20 or so subregions into which the Comité Champagne divides the appellation "... is useful but perhaps a little too granular for most people's needs." He reduces this granularity to the seven subregions that I graphically illustrated in my most recent post. In that post I promised to delve into Liem's subregions and begin here with a look at the Côte des Blancs.

The Unions des Maisons de Champagne (UMC) divides its Côte des Blancs subregion into a further five sub-subregions:
  • Côte des Blancs
  • Montgueux
  • Sézannais
  • Val du Petit Morin
  • Vitryat.
In his subregion classification, Liem retains Côte des Blancs as a subregion and combines the remaining UMC sub-subregions into a single subregion: The Coteaux du Morin, Côte de Sézanne, Vitryat, and Montgueux.

A top-level view of the Côte des Blancs and the associated villages (as identified by Liem) are presented below. The characteristics of the subregion are shown on the right side of the chart.

The villages are divided into northern and southern because, according to Peter, the
... wines from the northern part of the Côte des Blancs tend to be richer and marked by a certain girth, while farther south the wines become more piercingly saline and tense. Part of this relates to soil, since the northern areas tend to have a higher clay content and sometimes a deeper layer of topsoil. 
The characteristics of selected northern and southern villages are shown below.

A look at the UMC plantings data begins to give a sense as to why Peter limited his Côte des Blancs subregion to the escarpment south of Epernay, While, based on UMC data, Chardonnay plantings were 97.11% of the plantings in Liem's Côte des Blancs, only the Vitryat sub-subregion, with 97.49%, was in the same ballpark. Montgueux (90.25%), Sézannais (74.85%), and Val du Petit Morin (51.78%) all had more marked exposures to red grape varieties.

NOTE: In a subsequent post, I have called into question Peter Liem's removal of Val du Petit Morin, Côte de Sézannais, Vitryat, and Mongueux from the Côte des Blancs sub-region and made the case that these zones rightly belong here. In my future naakyses and writings I will treat these zones accordingly.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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