Montagne de Reims is a subregion of the Champagne vineyard area in northeast France. It is the northern subregion of Champagne, located south of the city of Reims and the Vesle River. The Montagne de Reims vineyards are located on the north and eastern facing slopes of the homonymous mountain. There are 7,966 ha (19684 acres) of vineyards planted in the Montagne de Reims subregion.
Montagne des Reims is home to many Champagne houses and includes four subregions. The biggest and most important is the Grande Montagne Reims, which includes the Grand Cru vineyards. There are also the Massif de St. Tierry, Monts de Berru, and Reims: Vesle & Ardre. champagne appellations. The city of Reims is easily accessible from Paris by train, and is an easy wine sub-region to explore as part of a planned trip to Paris.
The Montagnes de Reims is the most diverse region in terms of varieties grown. Although 41% of the vineyards are planted with the Pinot Noir grape, there is 26% of Chardonnay and 33% of Meunier. The champenois have understood over the centuries of grape growing which variety so the different varieties dominate in different parts of the region.
Montagne de Reims Pinot noir
Pinot Noir, the most planted variety of the Montagne de Reims. While Pinot Noir vineyards are scattered everywhere in the region, it is the dominant grape on the north and south-facing slopes of the Grande Montagne Reims. Despite the proximity of the two sides, the grapes end up having big differences, as the north side produces very elegant wines, while the south side results in more robust expressions.
Montagne de Reims Chardonnay
The second most planted grape in the Montagne de Reims is, of course, Chardonnay. Chardonnay is mainly found nestled between the Pinot Noir vineyards, on the eastern-facing slope of the Grande Montagne Reims. The high minerality these Chardonnays have, creates truly age-worthy wines, that need longer bottle aging to show their best self than the slightly riper Chardonnays from the Côte des Blancs.
Montagne de Reims Meunier
Meunier is dominating in the Massif de St. Thierry and Reims: Vesle & Ardre subregions, accounting for 53 and 60 percent of the plantings respectively. The soils of these regions are more sandy, aiding the ripeness and moderating the vigor of the Meunier grape.
The Montagne de Reims vineyards are located on the north and eastern slopes of the mountain, surrounding it. The presence of vineyards with north aspects is paradoxical for a vine growing region that is located so north since it makes the location even cooler.
Montagne de Reims subregion creates wines that are fresher and more aromatic than the rest of the Champagne. This makes it an important component in many cuvees, with increasing value because of the warming effects of climate change.
Most of the vineyards in Montagne de Reims are grown around the homonymous hill. Chalk is the main soil type at least in the subsoil. In many sloped vineyards, the topsoil also consists of chalk. The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are especially fond of these chalky soils, producing wines with finesse and elegance. Chalk is considered one of the finest soils in viticulture, due to its ability to absorb the necessary water the vines need to survive, while at the same time allowing the excess water to pass through, avoiding water logging even in flat vineyards.
The vineyards of the Montagne de Reims don’t only have south and east aspects, which are common for the Champagne region. Vineyards here are also grown on the north side of the Montagne de Reims, with north-facing aspects. No aspect produces lesser wines, since Grand Cru villages are located all around the hill, however, wine styles differ depending on the aspect. On the north, the vineyards benefit from the least sun, producing fresher, more perfumed wines, while the south and east vineyard orientations give wines with more body and power. Remember, that Champagne is generally a blended wine, so all these styles are important for the creation of the perfect cuvée.
Grand cru Villages
With the most Grand Cru villages, Montagne de Reims is definitely a Champagne subregion to pay attention to. Circling the Grande Montagne Reims from North to South we find Sillery, Puisieulx, Beamont-sur-Vesle, Mailly, Verzenay, Verzy, Ambonnay, Bouzy, and Louvois. Interestingly, only three of the Grand Cru villages are located on the southern slopes; Ambonnay, Bouzy, and Louvois. All the others are clustered on the north side, showcasing the importance of elegance among the finest Champagnes of the Montagne de Reims.
Blanc de Noirs
With just 26% of white Chardonnay grapes, Montagne de Reims producers are experts in the production of Blanc de Noirs wines. This involves pressing very gently the black Pinot Noir and Meunier grapes so that the juice extracted has a white-wine color.
What better way to understand the wines of the Montagne de Reims, than to taste the wines from the family-owned Champagne Vesselle, which makes wines only from the Grand Cru village of Bouzy. The wines are aged in the traditional cellars that are dug into the Chalky subsoil. Down the 16-meter deep cellar, the ideal humidity and the 10०C constant temperature result in wines that are matured in excellent conditions, effortlessly showcasing their qualitative potential.
Located in the heart of the Montage de Reims, Champagne Mailly has its headquarters in the homonymous village. Mailly-Champagne is one of the nine Grand Cru villages of the region. The winery is a cooperative of growers from this specific village and produces exclusively wines from Grand Cru sites. If you’re in the area, the winery building is definitely worth visiting. The cellar has 7 floors, allowing for minimal pumping, and the one-kilometer-long underground cellar that is dug in the chalk works wonders in the aging of the Champagnes. Since Mailly is one of the north-facing vineyards of the Montagne de Reims, the wines are particularly intense and perfumed. Pinot Noir is the dominant variety, so the wines don’t need particularly long aging to be enjoyed.