Hautvillers on the slopes of the Montagne de Reims about 4km north of Epernay is most famous for being the home of the fabled Dom Pérignon, father of Champagne. This picture postcard village with its pretty narrow streets is a favourite of tourists and indeed tour guides who drop off their customers to wander the lanes and visit the church where Dom Pérignon is buried alongside another famous Champagne monk: Dom Ruinart.
There are a number of Champagne houses in the village but none that have really grabbed our attention yet. That is not to say there isn’t good champagne here and we are aware of Champagne Vincent Bliard who has been working organically for 40 years although we have yet to taste their wines.
We did have a pleasant visit to a small shop and tasting café “Au 36” at 36, Rue Dom Pérignon. They sell champagnes at competitive prices with some very good cuvées available. For less than €20 you can buy Vilmart – Grande Réserve and Paul Bara – Brut Réserve and for just a little over €20 you can buy the superb Benoît Lahaye – Brut Essentiel and Paul Bara – Grande Rosé de Bouzy. Around the €30 mark there is Laherte Frères’ excellent Les Vignes d’Autrefois 2007, Agrapart – Les Terroirs and the Special Club from both Gaston Chiquet and Paul Bara.
The upstairs café offers light bites whilst also offering various champagne tasting menus. For example, on our visit we opted for the €15 three flutes, one each of Chardonnay (Vazart-Coquart of Chouilly), Pinot Noir (Mailly Grand Cru of Mailly) and Pinot Meunier (Loriot of Festigny). We had to ask which houses provided the cuvées which is something that should have been explained without a prompt. Despite having a boot (very) full of Champagne as this was a final stop on the drive home, we did purchase a 2003 bottle of Dumangin from Chigny-les-Roses and Cuvée Esprit from Henri Giraud at Aÿ, both of which were very reasonably priced.
Hautvillers has a very small village square with a few parking places opposite the tourist office but parking can easily be found anywhere around the village. There is an antique shop adjacent to Champagne Bliard that was unfortunately closed on our visit, near to the immaculate town hall and the Restaurant de l’Abbaye which look very nice. Well maintained toilets can be found at the front of the church and a somewhat public urinal is located in the small car park on the edge of the village by the road to Champillon.
A pretty village with historical importance for champagne, it is well worth a short stop to explore.
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