J. Vignier

Champagne | Côte de Blancs | Cramant

Nathalie Vignier’s family history in Champagne dates back to 1530 to Nicolas Vignier who lived in Bars sur Seine. Nicolas was a physician, lawyer, theologian and the court historian for Henry III.  Nathalie is now the 10th generation engaged in viticulture and winemaking in Champagne, and the 6th generation in the Grand Cru Village of Cramant. Her grandfather, Paul LeBrun, had 2 ha in the early 20th Century and resolved to become an independent vigneron by separating himself from the big négociants after World War I; he was one of the first to do so in the Côte des Blancs in 1920.  The wines were first imported to the United States by Frank Schoonmaker, a long-time collaborator in the wine trade with Alexis Lichene–two of the most influential wine writers in US history, spanning several decades.

Vignier’s holdings are now in the Grand Cru Villages of Cramant, Chouilly and Oiry, as well as some parcels in the Côte de Sézanne.  Nathalie first worked as an insurance adjuster for wineries in Burgundy and Champagne and was called home to take over the estate by her father.  She is slowly aligning the estate to her philosophy: higher ripeness, a return of oak to the cellar and no use of herbicides or pesticides.  The Vignier family motto is “La bonté de l’esprit et la grandeur de courage,” which means “the goodness in spirit, and the courage to greatness.”  There is a lot to look forward to from this grower in the future.

Soil Reports

  • Cretaceous Chalk
    Cretaceous Chalk

    Cretaceous Chalk

    At the surface, Cretaceous Chalk is very fragile and it weathers to dust which can easily be blown or washed away unless, as in the case of Champagne it is saved by Tertiary material which binds with the chalk to give it structure so that it doesn’t disintegrate. There are tiny fractures in the chalk which were caused by frosts during the Ice Age, and similar to the vines in the Mosel Valley in Germany, the vine roots can descend 30 meters into these fractures to tap the moisture supply below. This porous aspect of Cretaceous Chalk keeps the vines from suffering drought, because the average precipitation is only 26 inches per year in Champagne—near minimum for grape growing. The chalk in Champagne is also called Belimnite which is named after the Belimnite mollusk which lived in the Paris Basin. Belimnite chalk covers all of Champagne with the exception of the Aube, which is Kimmeridgean. There are tiny fractures in the Cretaceous Chalk which were caused by frosts during the Ice Age, and similar to the vines in the Mosel Valley in Germany, the vine roots can descend 30 meters into these fractures to tap the moisture supply below. This porous aspect keeps the vines from suffering drought, because the average precipitation is only 26 inches per year in Champagne—near minimum for grape growing.

Back To Top