We all know that not all bubbly is created equal. And that is also true for the vineyards in the Champagne region of France. Some premier cru villages and grand cru villages (look at you, Côte de Blancs!) earn the highest reputation for their exceptional harvest, while others, such as Côte De Sézanne, lack the same level of prestige.
That said, Côte De Sézanne has a unique composition of soil that translates to its wines. Many small, family-owned Champagne Houses in the area produce delicious sparkling wines that are light and fruity and offer an intense aromatic experience.
Below, we’ll explore the terroir of Côte De Sézanne and how it affects the characteristics of its champagnes. We’ll also bring you some of our favorite champagnes from this wine region, as well as a couple of touristy sites you can visit while there.
Where Is the Côte De Sézanne Located?
Côte De Sézanne is located in the Marne department in Champagne, France. It’s in the south east of Étoge on the Côte des Blancs and to the north of the Vallée de la Marne.
The commune (village) is technically an extension of the Côte des Blancs subregion. However, it’s considered as one of Champagne’s subregions alongside Montagne de Reims, Côte des Blancs, Vallée de la Marne, and Aube.
Map of Côte De Sézanne
Côte de Sézanne vineyards stretch from Allemand to Villenauxe-La-Grande in the south. They are divided into sections, but they are mostly continuous with a few gaps. Côte de Sézanne is approximately a 25-minute drive south of Côte des Blancs.
What Is the Soil Like in the Côte De Sézanne?
The terroir of Côte De Sézanne is well-suited to Chardonnay. However, unlike the chalky soils up north, the soils in this appellation aren’t as dominated by chalk. Its soils consist of different materials: limestone, marl, sand, and clay, and the sub-soil is made of chalk, which is not on the surface as in Côte des Blancs.
The composition of the soils causes the grapes to ripen prematurely compared to other wine regions, though the reflection of sunlight in the white leaves of the vines also helps increase ripeness.
The area is known for its cold weather. This lends champagne its citrus freshness. However, the river of Val du Petit Morin in the north could bring frost danger to the vines. In general, though, Sézannais is considered a warmer southern continuation of Côte des Blancs, only separated by the swampy marshes of Marais Saint-Gond.
What Grape Is Grown in the Côte de Sézanne?
The terroir is predominantly Chardonnay grapes. According to Union des Maisons de Champagne, Chardonnay grapes cover 75.40% of the 3,501-acre vineyard. Villages in Côte de Sézanne such as Allemant and Broyes have a significant amount of Chardonnay grape variety as well, but they still hold more places for diversity.
Some producers and growers also plant the other two main grape varieties, which have grown in numbers over the recent years. Pinot Noir now takes up 18.43% of the vineyards while Pinot Meunier is at 6.10%. The lowest percentage are other grape varieties, which are now pretty much non-existent.
Champagne Characteristics of Côte De Sézanne
Blanc de blancs here are more “tropical,” with slightly lower acidity but higher aromatic intensity. Richer and rounder, but lacks the same complexity and aging potential as those grown in Côte des Blancs.
And why is that?
It’s because all the 12 villages (or what French locals call ‘crus’) in Côte De Sézanne are considered ”autre cru.” None of the 715 vineyard owners in the area have vineyards that are classified as Grand or Premier Cru.
The now-defunct system Échelle des Crus classified different villages and vineyards in the Champagne region of France into three levels: grand cru, premier cru, and autre cru.
Each cru is classified based on the quality and reputation of champagnes they produce. The quality of soils, the vineyard’s credibility, and the area’s historical significance are among the criteria as well. Grand Crus and Premier Crus are reputable vineyards that produce grapes of exceptional quality.
Autre cru areas, on the other hand, while still having good terroirs, produce wines that aren’t as complex as those made in Grand cru and Premier cru areas. Côte de Sézanne falls in this category, unfortunately.
In fact, wine experts agree that the appellation indeed does not produce exceptional quality grapes. That said, many champagne producers source grapes from the area to make the blends for their famous non-vintage wines.
Côte de Sézanne also stands out from the rest of the Champagne’s sub-regions because aside from the distinct soil types, the area is where you’ll find fruity, light-bodied champagnes in a range of colors. You won’t find these highly sought characteristics of champagne elsewhere in France!
Popular Champagnes From Côte de Sézanne
Despite its vineyards being autre crus, Côte de Sézanne produces high-quality champagnes that pair well with French cuisines. The area isn’t the most celebrated when it comes to world-famous champagnes, but there are great options to explore.
Keep in mind, though, that most Champagne Houses here are small and family-run businesses that are fairly young. If you wish to visit the area soon, have a glass or two of these champagnes:
This non-vintage cuvée is made of red grapes Pinot Noir at 30%, Pinot Meunier at 30%, and 40% Chardonnay. It tends to be on the full-bodied spectrum, with a freshness of more ripe fruit with light acidity that is emblematic of Côte de Sézanne.
If you are in Côte de Sézanne, you’ve got to visit Delong-Marlène vineyards and try some of their wines. The estate’s vines stretch over 123.5 acres, with 30 across villages of the Allemant, Broyes, and Sézanne. This vintage cuvée’s harvest comes from Broyes’ clay-limestone soil.
This vintage champagne is made with 100% Chardonnay. A great way to experience the full expression of the Chardonnay grape variety of Côte de Sézanne.
You may also try their champagne rosé, which is crafted with blends from old wines. It’s made of 40% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Meunier, 45% Pinot Noir, and 20% Champenois red wine. The red wine is made from red grapes grown in the village of Allemant.
On the palate, it’s supple and astringent, which is typical of rosé champagnes. And on the nose, it reveals the fresh aromatics of Griotte cherries.
This champagne is made of 35% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, and 35% Pinot Meunier. It has tempting and vibrant notes, and slowly develops flavors of ripe fruits on the palate. On the nose are aromas of ripe apples, fruit jelly and honey with floral notes. The wine is summary and light, with a balanced dosage to keep its freshness alive.
Another native to Broyes, the blend of this champagne is made of Pinot Noirs and white wine. It boasts a subtle balance that combines roundness and suppleness.
Places To Visit Near Côte De Sézanne
Exploring some of Côte De Sézanne’s touristy sites is a good way to divert your attention while also immersing yourself in the region’s culture and history. Here are a couple of places you may find worth visiting.
Basilica of Saint-Denis
France is home to some of the most magnificent and important landmarks in the world. Many of them are ruins and churches with historical significance. If you love Gothic architecture, the Basilica of Saint-Denis would be a wonderful place to visit. It used to be a medieval abbey named after Paris’ first bishop Saint-Denis.
The cathedral was built over the crypt of the martyr-bishop. It’s also the earliest example of Gothic architecture and the first one to be completed in the Gothic style.
Memorial De Mondement (National Monument of the Marne)
This monument holds significance because it marked the first Marne battle that took place from September 5 to 12, 1914. It serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by people who fought for their country during the time.
An impressive structure, the 33-meter-tall monument has a unique design that combines concrete and pink granite. It is a conspicuous landmark in the French countryside, which is a great way to find a peaceful and reflective moment.
To Sum It Up…
While a lesser-known region that’s always associated with Côte des Blancs and its vineyards don’t hold the prestigious “Grand Cru” status as the other regions in Champagne, Sézannais boasts its own unique character that translates to its wines.
The magic still lies in its terroirs. Côte De Sézanne has a mosaic of soils in its terroir that produces good quality champagne grapes for use in blending some of our favorite champagnes in the list.
We hope you’ve found this post helpful. If you have any questions, let us know and we’d be happy to help. Thanks for reading!