The village of Hautvillers is one of the most beautiful and picturesque towns we visit during our Champagne Day Trip and one with great significance: it’s the place where the French Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon is said to have invented champagne wine.
Well, that’s not exactly what happened.
So why do we like Hautvillers so much? Here are some of the places we love and why you should, too!
Abbaye Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers
The Benedictine abbey dates back to the Middle Ages, the year 650 AD to be precise. It was not a very easy path for this place to stay put. It was destroyed and rebuilt three times before its most famous tenant; Dom Pierre Pérignon took residence in 1668 as cellarer, a post he would carry for the rest of his life.
His wine production methods paved the way to differentiate wine from the region. Therefore, he’s one of the key people we can thank for that delicious bubbly we can enjoy today.
What will you see in this abbey? It’s primarily decorated with 17th-century woodwork, and of course, it’s where you’ll find Dom Pérignon’s final resting place, in front of the altar.
Taste the bubbly
What better place to enjoy some delicious champagne but at the site where its production was perfected?
Before we arrived at the wonderful flavor of the champagne we’re able to enjoy today; the wine was a flat, cloudy and red-tinted drink called “grey wine.” Dom Pérignon introduced new methods to avoid a second fermentation due to warmer weather (the distinctive fizz that at the time could dampen production as bottles would break and even explode!)
You can taste some champagne in the smaller houses of Hautvillers. A couple of favorites for us are Champagnes Joseph Desruets with their amiable and knowledgeable staff and Au 36, not a champagne house per se, but a fantastic place to discover an incredible of known and lesser known brands
Construction of the abbey and the proximity to the Marne river gave way to the rise of the village (the name Hautvillers is the French translation of the original Latin name “Alta Villare”).
Every corner of the village provides unforgettable picture moments. The medieval architecture contrasts with the sea of emerald that is the surrounding vineyards. The wrought-iron signs hanging from the walls of most houses are also a great sight to Hautvillers.
These signs had a commercial significance. Back in the Middle Ages when people were virtually illiterate, these signs indicated the type of activity performed in the establishment. As expected, many of these signs had something to do with champagne production and trade.
No doubt you will be pleasantly surprised by this beautiful scenic village and its wide selection of champagnes (from very affordable to downright outrageous).