If you pay a visit to Champagne, the likelihood is that you’ll spend the majority of your time in and around Epernay and Reims, which lie amongst The Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne and the Côte des Blancs. These three renowned regions have more than enough Maisons to keep even the most intrepid enthusiast busy. There is, however, one other major region of Champagne…
Isolated from the remainder of the appellation, the Côte des Bar – which falls in the larger ‘Aube’ region of Champagne – is around 100 miles south of Reims and was originally a part of Burgundy. It is, after all, only a short hop from Chablis.
Today, the Côte des Bar is known as a hotbed for Grower Champagne but it’s only in the last couple of decades that it has gathered this reputation, with names such as Cédric Bouchard and Bertrand Gautherot flying the flag for the Champagnes of the South. Prior to this, the majority of growers here were content selling on their grapes to the Grand Marques, who admired the rich Pinot that came from these southerly plots.
This historic predilection for Pinot Noir from négociants means that the majority of plantings are still Pinot Noir, although many growers have shown that exceptional Chardonnay can also be grown here. In actual fact many vignerons would point to Chablis as evidence for this, as the terroir, unlike the majority of the Champagne appellation, is the same band of Kimmeridgian clay.
At Sip we work with a number of wonderful winemakers spanning the Côte des Bar. Here are a few picks to help you start your Côte des Bar love affair…
Dosnon Recolte Noire Zero Dosage shows the power Pinot Noir can achieve in this southerly region, beautifully balanced by zero dosage.
Julien Prelat Presle comes from the village made famous by Cédric Bouchard and it’s a fabulous example of just how interesting Chardonnay can be beyond the Côte des Blancs.