Famous Champagne Producers

Some of the world's most popular luxury brands are associated with Champagne houses. Present-day wine producers and growers can credit Champagne's widespread popularity to their predecessors' early marketing efforts, which tended to associate sparkling wine with royalty and prestige.

Moet Hennessy

The Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy LVMH brand, owns some of the world's most renowned Champagne houses. Some of the prestigious and well-known houses under the LVMH umbrella include Moet, Krug, Mercier and Veuve Clicquot. While most major Champagne houses are part of the Union de Maisons de Champagne (UMC), non-members of UMC include Delbeck, Drappier, Vilmart, Paul Goerg and Nicolas Feuillatte. The Champagne house Gauthier, which is owned by Lanson-BCC, also falls under this category. Champagne houses or brands holding membership with the UMC are sometimes called Grandes Marques.

Moet et Chandon can trace its history back to 1743 when it was established in Épernay by Claude Moet, a wine trader descended from an old family resident in the Champagne region since the 14th century. In the company's archives can be seen an invoice of 1743 when Moet shipped Champagne to Paris for t he first time. The real rise of Champagne was in the reign of Louis XV and became a favorite for romantic suppers for the king and his favorites, including Madame de Pompadour. Moet et Chandon expanded and its Champagne was shipped to new markets: From 1750 to England, then Germany, Spain, Russia, America, Poland, and Bohemia in 1791.

In 1794 Claude Moet bought the walls and the vineyards of the former Abbey of Hautvillers, the same Abbey where Dom Perignon founded the method for producing Champagne. Hautvillers is a charming flower-filled wine village with sweeping views of the Marne River valley, and the Abbey has now been converted into a museum describing the process of making Champagne.

Cellar Visits: Possible with a reservation

 

Taittinger

In 1734, Jacques Fourneaux, a merchant of champagne wines, established the company that would some day become Taittinger. The Taittinger family had its roots in Lorraine, but left its native province in 1870 following the Treaty of Frankfurt and settled in the Paris area in order to retain its French nationality. Around 1912, Pierre-Charles Taittinger was running a business involved in the distribution and export of champagne with one of his brothers-in-law. After the First World War, a merger occurred between the company, which had come to be known as Fourneaux-Forest, and the Taittinger family, who would ultimately take control. From 1945, Pierre-Francois, the third son of Pierre Taittinger, along with his two brothers Jean and Claude, oversaw a period of remarkable growth for the champagne house. Pierre died in a tragic car accident in 1960 and since then Claude Taittinger has presided over the destiny of one of the last great champagne houses to bear the name of the family that runs it, himself overseeing the quality of its products in line with tradition. At this time it also began operation in the cellars of the Saint-Nicaise monastery in Reims, built in the 13th century on magnificent Gallo-Roman chalk cellars dating from the second century. Remains of the Abbey, destroyed during the French Revolution are still visible today throughout the tunnels, in an excellent state of preservation.

Cellar Visits: Possible with a reservation

 

Mumm

The Mumm brothers, Jacobus, Gottlieb and Philipp, who were from a rich family of German wine merchants and who also owned vineyards in the Rhine valley, arrived in Reims in 1827. Along with their business partner Friedrich Giesler, they set up P.A. Mumm et Cie., the initials standing for the forenames of their father, Peter Arnold Mumm.

Cellar Visits: Possible with a reservation

 

Veuve Clicquot

Philippe Clicquot-Muiron established Veuve clicquot in 1772. However, it was Phillipe's daughter-in-law, Nicole-Barbe Clicquot, who really laid the foundations of the modern company. It is after her that Grande Dame is named, and of course Veuve Clicquot. The world Veuve means widow;. She became a widow in 1805, at the age of 27. Madame Clicquot had a young daughter and no knowledge of the business, but she eagerly took control of the organization and did quite well by it. It was she that developed the system of removing sediment, 'remuage', from the Champagne bottles - by cutting holes in her kitchen table! A part of the Champagne's landscape for over two centuries, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin symbolizes the Art of Living to perfection. With a vineyard exceeding 280 hectares at the heart of the Champagne region's finest areas, Veuve Clicquot stayed true to its founder, Madame Clicquot's creed:  "only one quality, the best." Now it is part of the LVMH Group.

Cellar Visits: Possible with a reservation

 

Pommery

Founded in 1836, the House created by the wine traders Pommery & Greno, was selling just 45,000 bottles a year. In less than 20 years, thanks to Mrs Pommery, the Pommery House became one of the most important and prestigious Houses of Champagne. In February, 1858, Alexandre Louis Pommery, a Reims wool trader, abruptly died. His widow, Louise, took over the control of the Pommery winery at the age of 39, with two children to care for as well. She knew virtually nothing about champagne wines. She built elaborate buildings over her cellars, and developed a brut style of Champagne that the British adored. She brought her winery from a small, multi-wine shop to a large Champagne house, respected the world over. The Pommery estate extends over a large patch of land in the southern part of Reims, called the Butte Sainte-Nicaise. During 19th century, the Champagne was a very sweet wine and only drunk with dessert. Mrs Pommery changed this and created the first champagne without added sugar. The Pommery Brut Nature 1874 was born!

Cellar Visits: Possible with a reservation

 

Ruinart

The House of Ruinart was officially founded, for a royal decree allowing champagne wines to be transported in baskets containing 50 or 100 bottles was only issued on 25th May 1728. Prior to that date, wines had only been transported in wooden casks, this obviously being impossible for wines which champanization can only be realized in bottles.

Cellar Visits: Possible with a reservation

 

Piper-Heidsieck

Florens-Louis Heidsieck was the son of a Lutheran minister from Westphalia. He moved to Reims to work as a cloth merchant, and discovered winemaking there. He started making his own wine in 1780 and founded his own House on 16 July 1785. He dedicated one of his wines to Queen Marie-Antoinette which he was granted the honor of presenting to Her Majesty in person. Piper was exceptionally gifted in business and as an entrepreneur of his time, he traveled the world promoting Heidsieck champagne. Fourteen royal and imperial courts made the House their official supplier, and quite soon, Heidsieck from Piper;was the only champagne which true aficionados would drink. And thus the wine with quality standards rigorously defined by Florens-Louis Heidsieck himself very quickly became known as ;Piper-Heidsieck. In October 1838, the two names came even closer together when Henri Piper married Christian Heidsieck's widow! In 1851, Henri Piper teamed up with his cousin J.C. Kunkelmann. For the House's centenary in 1885, he commissioned Faberge, the celebrated jeweler to the Russian imperial court, to make a gold, lapis lazuli and diamond ornament to adorn the special champagne created for the occasion. When J.C. Kunkelmann died, his son succeeded him. Then his daughter and son-in-law took over the business, and the House remained in the family. At the end of the 89's Piper-Heidsieck joined the internationally known Remy-Cointreau Wine and Spirits Group.

Cellar Visits: Not Possible

 

Louis Roederer

Louis Roederer is one of the largest remaining independent Champagnes Houses, owned by the same family since it was founded in 1776. In the period 1832 to 1870, under the direction of Louis Roederer, the house gained top ranking worldwide with sales of 2,500,000 bottles, including 390,000 in the United States and 660,000 in Russia where Louis Roederer champagne was an outstanding success. In 1876, Louis Roederer II who had succeeded his father created the Cristal cuvée for Tsar Alexander II. In 1809 Tsar Nicolas II nominated Louis Roederer as the official supplier to the Imperial Court of Russia.

The continuity of the Bollinger style rests on its own House estate. It represents two thirds of its supply. The dominant grape variety in the blend is Pinot Noir. Among the growths, Pinot Noir from Ay represents the majority. Among the clones, the main clone of Pinot Noir planted is the 386 or Pinot Moret.

When Johann-Joseph Krug founded the Krug champagne house in 1843, his dream was to give his name to nothing less than exceptional champagne. To achieve this, he set himself a few rules, among which, first and foremost: never compromise on quality.

Cellar Visits: Not Possible


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