THE MASSIF DE SAINT THIERRY & THE VALLÉE DE L'ARDRE
Near Reims, the city of coronations, the territory of the Massif de Saint Thierry and of the Vallée de l'Ardre features vineyards established on two large plateaus: the Tardenois and the massif de Saint Thierry, divided by the Ardre and Vesle rivers.
CHAMPAGNE, NATURE, AND HERITAGE
A GREEN OASIS
Located to the east of Reims, the Massif de Saint Thierry and the Vallée de l'Ardre areas boast a rich natural and architectural heritage that can be explored on land, in the air, and in the depths!
The vineyards and forests in the Massif de Saint Thierry form a magnificent stretch of greenery, cradling the villages intimately connected to the coronations of the Kings of France.
Thirty or so cellars and houses, all carrying the "Vignobles & Découvertes" label, open their doors to you and reveal the secrets of their champagne over a tasting and/or a visit of their property.
AN EXCEPTIONAL HISTORIC BACKGROUND
Clovis made a gift of the Masssif de Saint Thierry to Saint-Remi on Christmas Eve 496 as thanks for his baptism.
In the 6th century, Thierry, a disciple of Saint-Remi, founded a monastery there at the place called "Mont d'Hor". Legend has it that a white eagle flying over the hill showed him the location of the oratory, and came back to hover over the spot on Christmas Day for the following four years.
For 13 centuries the monastery prospered, leading to the development of the villages on the Massif de Saint Thierry and of their vineyards.
A great producer of red wines in the past, the Massif de Saint Thierry is planted mostly with red grape varieties: pinot noir and pinot meunier.
The Route de Champagne circuit begins with a tour of the treasures from the heritage of Reims, the cathedral and its famous Ange au Sourire (smiling angel), the Palais du Tau which houses the cathedral’s treasures and a part of the original statuary.
You will then head towards Tinqueux and Champigny. The vineyards appear at Merfy...
TO SEE ON THE WAY
- Reims and its UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Cathedral, Saint Remi Abbey and Museum, Palais du Tau
- Reims Champagne houses and their kilometres of cellars dug out of the chalk
- The Abbey of Saint Thierry, former residence of the Bishops of Champagne,
- Pévy and its Roman church housing a 15th century retable
- Fismes, the town of Uderzo, the famous illustrator of the "Asterix et Obelix” cartoons
THE GRAPE HARVEST FESTIVAL
Every two years, on even years, the Massif de Saint-Thierry Viticulture Association organises its “Grape Harvest Festival” in October.
The dazzling festival features: traditional grape harvesting, pressing, treading and tasting the sweet wine, presentations on wine disgorgement and drawing (tirage), on barrel-making, on craft professions, street artists, a gourmet market, etc.
This travelling wine tourism event is a reflection of the Massif de Saint Thierry terroir and encompasses an exploration of wine, gastronomy, culture, and tradition in a friendly and festive atmosphere.
I CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT CHAMPAGNE, WHEN VICTORIOUS, I DESERVE IT; WHEN DEFEATED, I NEED IT.
WHAT IS THE MOST COMMONLY USED METHOD FOR CREATING A ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE?
- Blending a clear white wine and a red Champagne wine
- Soaking black grape skins in juice
- The addition of a natural colourant
Champagne is the only region in France where blending is authorised for creating rosé, the vast majority of producers using this method. The second, so-called “de la saignée” (bleeding) method, is used less often.
In the first rosé Champagne wines, a colour extracted from elderberries, called “Liqueur de Fismes”, was added to the wine to enhance its colour, but this custom has been forbidden since 1907.
SELECTION OF GETAWAYS
See some ideas for walks to explore the Massif de Saint Thierry and the Vallée de l'Ardre!
Tours de la Cathédrale Notre Dame
Climbing the towers of Reims cathedral allows a unique view of a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, its high statuary and 20th century...
A listed Unesco World Heritage site, this museum of history and archaeology from prehistoric times to the Renaissance comprises a 12th...
Abbaye de Saint Thierry
The Abbey of Saint-Thierry dates from the 12th century. It houses the village chapel and the old chapter house, with fine, sculpted...