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The legendary monk Dom Pierre Pérignon (1638-1715) of the Order of Benedictine (by the way, the same life data as king Louis XIV. ) entered in 1668 in the Abbaye Saint Pierre d'Hautvillers in the function as Cellerar (Economic Officer). This abbey was located in the department of Marne, the core area of the Champagne, amidst vineyards on a hill, near Paris. The monastery and the vineyards all around were repeatedly the victims of devastation and destruction by marching armies. Two decades before Pérignon's entry, the Thirty Years' War had come to an end, bringing a decline in viticulture not only in France but throughout Europe, from which many areas have not recovered to this day. But just at this time, the great boom of Champagne began to a very special wine region. The area Aÿ, even today the most famous wine village in the region, was already considered a shorthand for excellent wines and was synonymous with high quality for the whole area in use.

Abbaye Saint Pierre d'Hautvillers - Champagne

The well-read and educated Dom Pérignon is often the invention of the champagne attributed, but this is just one of the numerous legends about him. Because this invention also claim other areas of France and Spain and indeed there was a sparkling wine long before the champagne. Already in 1531 was the documentary Blanquette de Limoux mentioned. In France, intensive research was conducted into when a foaming drink, that is to say champagne, was deliberately made and as a result the middle of the 17th century is established. This was achieved by adding sugar when bottling, which led to a subsequent fermentation in the bottle and thus to the famous pearls. Whether at all - and if so, when - Pérignon has specifically targeted the production of sparkling wine, is not known. That he was the first to bring the champagne to froth, is thus attributable to the realm of fable. But he is the inventor of assemblage, the artful intersection of vintages, Vineyards and varieties undisputed.

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

Almost forgotten is the monk Jean Oudart (1654-1742), who was cellar master of Hautvillers subordinate Saint-Pierre aux Monts de Châlons. This worked closely with Dom Perignon and contributed after his death essential to the champagne process. Pérignon turned increasingly to viticulture, studied the cut of the vines and made attempts at pressing and blending. The vines were sharply cut back so they yielded less. He used only dark grapes, because the white gave too little taste and tended in the spring for secondary fermentation. Was read only 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 to collect. The grapes were kept cool and brought to the press as quickly as possible. Even before pressing Pérignon mixed the grapes according to maturity, taste and vineyard. The usual until then pounding He refused, because it caused too many dyes in the must. Therefore, he developed a special press, with which the grapes were gently pressed.

As an opponent of the barrel storage, he led the early bottling on. He was confronted with the problem of secondary fermentation and thus a "foaming wine". Therefore, Pérignon replaced the traditional hemp wrapped wooden bottle stoppers cork which was a novelty at the time. These were better able to withstand the pressure in the bottle. He fought the problem of foaming by appropriate measures, because he wanted to produce a still wine. Because of its northern location, grapes rarely reach maturity in Champagne, which gives them different qualities. This was one more reason for Pérignon to compensate for this by skilfully blending different layers and years. Even then, mainly red grape varieties were grown. The only pale reddish red wines were not of sufficient quality.

Pérignon succeeded by various measures to produce white wine, which he called "inventor" of the Blanc de noirs can be viewed. The early blind and ascetic monk nourished himself only on cheese and fruits, he allegedly never drank wine himself, and recognized every vineyard with the taste of a single grape. Since the saying "I drink stars" comes from him, but this is questionable, because he had to taste his products so synonymous. By the way, Dom Pérignon goes back to the 1970s bottle volume of 0.7 liters, which he had calculated as the average amount for male adults at dinner. The former abbey Hautvillers was bought in 1794 with the surrounding vineyards of Jean-Remy Moët (1758-1841), who founded a winery. This still belongs to the 1832 in Moët et Chandon renamed champagne house. From the former monastery stands today only the renewed in the 17th century abbey church of Saint-Sidulphe. In the church is the tomb of Dom Pérignons. The Cuvée de Prestige The house has been bearing the name "Dom Pérignon" since the year 1921.

Abbaye St. Pierre: From 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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