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The legendary monk Dom Pierre Pérignon (1638-1715) from the order of the Benedictine (by the way, the same life dates as König Louis XIV ) joined Abbaye Saint Pierre d'Hautvillers in 1668 as Cellerar (Business manager). This abbey was located in the Marne department, the core area of the Champagne, in the middle of vineyards on a hill, near Paris. Due to its central location, the monastery and the vineyards all around were repeatedly victims of the devastation and destruction of marching armies. Two decades before Pérignon's entry, the Thirty Years' War came to an end, which brought not only in France, but in Europe as a whole, a decline in viticulture from which many areas have not yet recovered. But it was at this time that the great boom in Champagne began to become a very special wine-growing region. The area Aÿ, still the most famous wine region in the region, was already an abbreviation for excellent wines and was a synonym for high quality for the whole area.

Abbaye Saint Pierre d’Hautvillers - Champagne

The well-read and educated Dom Pérignon is often the invention of champagne attributed, which is only one of the numerous legends surrounding him. Because this invention also claimed other areas of France and Spain and in fact there was a sparkling wine long before the champagne. Already in 1531 the Blanquette de Limoux mentioned. In France, intensive research was carried out to determine when a foaming drink, i.e. champagne, was deliberately produced, and as a result the middle of the 17th century has been established. This was achieved by adding sugar to the bottles when bottling, which led to post-fermentation in the bottle and thus to the famous pearls. It is not known whether Pérignon specifically dealt with the production of sparkling wine - and if so, when. The fact that he was the first to sparkle champagne can be attributed to the realm of fables. But he is the inventor of the assemblage, the artful blending of vintages, Vineyards and varieties undisputed.

Pérignon - relief in Abbaye Saint Pierre d’Hautvillers and statue in Épernay

The monk Jean is almost forgotten Oudart (1654-1742), was the cellar master of the Hautvillers subordinate Abbey of Saint-Pierre aux Monts de Châlons. The latter worked closely with Dom Pérignon and, after his death, contributed significantly to the champagne process. Pérignon turned increasingly to viticulture, studied the pruning of vines and made attempts at pressing and blending. The vines were cut back sharply so that they yielded less. He only used dark grapes, because the white ones gave too little taste and tended to ferment in the spring. It was only read in the early morning, in cold weather. All damaged or rotten berries, leaves and other contaminants have been removed and only flat wine baskets used for collection. The grapes were kept cool and pressed as quickly as possible. Before pressing, Pérignon mixed the grapes according to their degree of ripeness, taste and vineyard location. The usual until then pounding he declined, because it caused too many dyes to enter the must. Therefore he developed a special press with which the grapes were gently pressed.

As an opponent of barrel storage, he led the early one bottling on. He was confronted with the problem of post-fermentation and thus a "sparkling wine". That is why Pérignon replaced the traditional hemp-wrapped wooden bottle stoppers cork, which was a novelty at that time. These withstood the pressure in the bottle better. He countered the problem of foaming with appropriate measures because he wanted to produce a still wine. Due to the northern location, the grapes rarely reach full ripeness in Champagne and there are therefore different qualities. That was one more reason for Pérignon to compensate for this by artfully blending different layers and vintages. At that time, mainly red grape varieties were grown. The only pale reddish red wines were of insufficient quality.

Pérignon succeeded in producing white wine from various measures, which he as the "inventor" of the Blanc de noirs can be viewed. The early blind and ascetic monk lived only on cheese and fruit, supposedly never drank wine himself and recognized every vineyard by the taste of a single grape. Since the saying "I drink stars" also comes from him, this is questionable, because he had to taste his products. Incidentally, Dom Pérignon was the one that was widespread until the 1970s bottle volume of 0.7 liters, which he had determined as the average amount for male adults at dinner. The former Hautvillers abbey was bought in 1794 with the surrounding wine fields by Jean-Remy Moët (1758-1841), who founded a winery. This still belongs to 1832 in Moët et Chandon renamed champagne house. Only the abbey church of Saint-Sidulphe, which was renovated in the 17th century, remains of the former monastery. Dom Pérignon's tombstone is in the church. The Cuvée de Prestige the house has had the name "Dom Pérignon" since 1921.

Abbaye St. Pierre: Von October Ends - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 , Link
Relief Pérignon: Blog Brigitte Rebollar
Statue in Épernay: By victorgrigas - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 , Link

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