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Champagne Charlier & Fils
by
Kathy Sullivan

Champagne Charlier & FilsSummary: Champagne Charlier is a small family champagne house with the important Vignobles & Découvertes label signifying an excellent tourist site. Visitors are welcomed with a smile. Expect to learn about champagne from the vineyard to the bottle. Small groups can have a tasting in a unique tasting area.

Champagne Charlier & FilsChampagne Charlier is a small family champagne house located in the valley of the Marne in Châtillon-sur-Marne. We met Carole Perrin and her daughter Lauriane (pictured). They took us on a tour of the property and the winery. The family business was founded in 1892 by their great-grandfather. The current family is the fifth and sixth generation owners.

During the tour, we learned that their vineyards are located on the right side of the Marne River. Today the family owns 15 hectares (37 acres) of which 60 percent are Pinot Meunier. The rest of the vineyards are planted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Across from the retail building, a display vineyard is planted with Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Our group arrived in early April when the grapevines were still dormant. We were asked if we could identify these dormant vines. Could you answer that question without seeing the grape leaves?

At the champagne house, the front of the building offers a welcoming sign Bienvenue. Above the sign five paintings of vineyard and grapevine scenes are affixed.The winery is unique with large, colorful wall murals that depict the family involved in winemaking and harvest. Wines are aged in neutral oak tanks and barrels. The family now produces 120,000 bottles.

Champagne Charlier & Fils   Champagne Charlier & Fils   Champagne Charlier & Fils

As visitors walk into the winemaking area, they will see large oak casks. Many of these casks have extensive carvings depicting wine scenes. One hundred percent of the wines are produced in oak to ferment and age. Champagne Charlier has 57 barrels. Near the barrels, there is a space devoted to artifacts that were once used in the production of champagne. Of interest was one artifact used to tie the cork to the bottle. This was used prior to wire cages to help hold the cork in the bottle.

Champagne Charlier & Fils   Champagne Charlier & Fils   Champagne Charlier & Fils

A very unique opportunity presented itself as we discovered a large oak cask with a small staircase leading to a small area with seating for perhaps six people. Small group champagne tastings are available in this unusual spot.

After the tour we tasted four Champagne Charlier champagnes in the delightfully small event room adjacent to the tasting room and shop. The cozy event room has seating of small oak barrels covered with comfortable cushions.

Champagne Charlier & FilsThe Champagnes of Champagne Charlier

Carte Noire Brut was produced predominantly with Pinot Meunier and some Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The dosage was 7 grams per liter. The champagne was a yellow color and offered notes of fruit with a hint of oak.

2005 was produced with equal parts of Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This yellow champagne had multiple columns of beads rising to form the mousse. The taste was creamy with notes of berries and peaches. The special label is silk-screened.

Brut Rosé de Saignée was produced with 20 hours on the grape skins. The color was a light red. There were multiple columns of beads and a large mousse. The wine offered notes of strawberries and raspberries. It was creamy and delicious.

Special Club 2004 Brut was produced with mostly Chardonnay and a little Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This champagne had a yellow color. The champagne had multiple columns of beads forming the mousse. The champagne offered notes of berry fruits and apple.

In addition to their champagne production, Champagne Charlier also offers an array of products from the region including Ratafia of Champagne, Old Marc of Champagne, Old Fine (brandy) of the Marne, Liquor of Champenoises, Cherry Water of Champagne Life, and specialty chocolates.

Wine Tourism

Champagne Charlier & Fils has received the Vignobles & Découvertes label for its distinction as one of the best tourist sites in France. The family is very welcoming and the tours are available in English. Call to make an appointment for a tour and tasting. As you walk to the visitor area be sure to look to the side for the pond and the graceful swans.

Champagne Charlier & Fils
"To the Oak Casks"
4 Rue des Pervenches
517OO Montigny, Châtillon-sur-Marne, France
Tel 03.26.58.35.18

 

Article written April 2015


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