Video: The Village of Hautvillers where Dom Perignon Discovered the Méthode Champenoise

During our cruise in Champagne we visit the pretty hilltop village of Hautvillers. Known as the ‘cradle of Champagne’, it is here that the monk Dom Perignon discovered the ‘méthode champenoise’.

Champagne might have remained unsung and unvisited, had it not been for an accident of history. Close to Reims cathedral in the Abbaye d’Hautvilliers, a near-blind Benedictine monk named Dom Pierre Pérignon was given the job of being its chief treasurer and cellar master. When he first took over in 1688, the wine being produced by the abbey was adequate but pale. Pérignon feared that the deep red wine from the neighboring region of Burgundy was gaining favor with the King.

The lighter red of the wine produced in Champagne was becoming a problem but was unavoidable due to the cooler climate of the region. Dom Pérignon’s legacy to the world was the invention of a procedure for the production of Champagne. ‘I am drinking the stars,’ he is said to have murmured as he took the first sip of champagne the world had ever known

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