France: Champagne

Around Reims

The city of Reims and the Montagne de Reims
By Tom Stevenson and Michael Edwards

This Guide was last updated on 25 June 2010
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Champagne Paul Déthune

Address: 2 Rue du Moulin, 51150 Ambonnay
Tel: 03 26 57 01 88  Fax: 03 26 57 09 31
Geo-coordinates:  Latitude: 49:4:37N (49.07687)    Longitude: 4:10:5E (4.16815) 

The Déthunes are one of the oldest families in Ambonnay, having tended vines on the village’s privileged slopes since the early 17th century. Today young Pierre Déthune and his wife Sophie have 7ha planted with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in a 70:30 ratio, entirely within the Ambonnay Grand Cru vineyard and all farmed according to biodynamic principles. The house and outbuildings in rough-cast stone are beautifully covered with ivy that changes colour symbolically with the seasons. In the winery, handsome oak foudres show the couple's respect for the best of tradition, though their Champagnes now have an extra dimension of quality from constant modern improvements. The way they make their Brut Rosé is a case in point, a clever finessing of the saignée method, the more demanding way that growers traditionally make their pink champagne. The pressed juice is given a short maceration with the Pinot Noir skins to achieve a pronounced colour that is neither really red nor rosé. Then about 20% Chardonnay is added to lighten and fix the colour, giving the appearance consistency. The result is a good balance of exuberant fruit, vinosity and freshness. The Brut Non Vintage is a bright sleek wine reflecting the grapes’ grand cru origins and the Blanc de Blancs shows the roundness of Montagne de Reims Chardonnay. The best-known wines here are the elegant Blanc de Noirs, the Prestige Cuvée Princesse des Thunes and the Cuvée à l’Ancienne, all marked by gourmand flavours aided by vinification in foudres and Champenois pièces of 205 litres.

Useful information: Visits by appointment only.


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