Champagne Olivier Lassaigne
25th May 2016
When you drive from Troyes to Montgueux you’ll see at the entry to the village a sign in the shape of a Champagne flute. The house I was going to visit is close to it and has a magnificent view out over Troyes.
The Champagne makers of Montgueux are proud of the place’s rich history. There are links to Attila the Hun and the Battle of the Catalaunian Fields, Napoleon and the French Campaign of 1814 and the American troops who liberated Troyes in August 1944.
It was Olivier’s grandfather, Firmin, who founded the house after the Second World War. He cleared the land and planted the vines. In the years that followed, he built his winery. It’s now home to a pneumatic press and stainless steel tanks. Olivier continues to use manual disgorging as there is no place for the freezing equipment.
Montgueux is known for the quality of its Chardonnay grapes. Firmin sold a lot of his juice to Champagne de Venoge in the days before there were contracts. Olivier uses his 5.50 ha of vines to supply Veuve Cliquot and a local cooperative. He keeps just a quarter to make his own Champagne.
The house rents Pinot Noir vines in the Sarce Valley. These are used to make tradition and rosé Champagne. Recent frost caused a lot of damage in the vineyards around Bar sur Seine and it might mean they can’t make either of them this year.
Olivier practices sustainable viticulture. He uses neither herbicides or pesticides. Conventional methods are the best for him as long as they’re used intelligently and will help in saving the planet. One drawback is the grass planted between the vines is complicated to manage and lowers yields.
Firmin made his first 300 bottles in the 1950’s in barrels. Olivier now makes 15,000 bottles. He would like to use barrels again, but is worried about the effect the tannins in the oak would have on the Chardonnay.
The house’s customers are all European. Locals also have the option of ordering the Champagne on line from Drive Fermier. Olivier’s wife , Stéphanie , comes from a cider making family and you can also buy this and their jams if you visit the house.
Tour guide for the Champagne region who lives in Troyes. Specialising in family run Champagne house visits in the Aube and the Marne plus wine tours in the Yonne and Côte d'Or.