Family run Champagne house Philippe Martin, a gem of a tour in a Premier Cru village not to miss.
Philippe Martin is now an eighth generation family run winery in one of the best Premier Cru villages on the lower edges of the ultimate vineyard parcels in Hautvillers. Although Hautvillers, Cumières, nor Dizy are Grand Cru they do represent the origins of champagne starting with Dom Perignon.
For the first time in the houses history, rather than taking the name of the current owner, Adeline has inherited the grand responsibility of operations, yet they are keeping her father’s name on the brand. That said, like many or most of the people in Champagne they are fighters and survivors, a tough lot, and here you’ll see Philippe Martin doing all the tasks necessary to produce great champagne.
You can find more information here and buy great champagnes for reasonable prices at Philippe Martin, including renting a room in their villa!
What is undeniable in Champagne is family history, with the passing from generation to generation. Remember that to make fine wine much care has to go into the daily care over the vines all year long as that is the base of everything.
Over the years there have been changes always for the better yet tours here are top quality and personalised. That said it I always gave the tours, giving me the time necessary to explain all the important details in intimate cellars where you are right in the rows of bottles. You don’t find that freedom in the big tours, they limit information, and don’t want you to take your time appreciating what it takes to make champagne.
Their cellars offer an excellent overview of how to treat prestige champagnes in constant humid temperatures around 10-12ºC. They do have a modern cellar under the parking platform, which is reserved for non-vintage blends. Most their champagnes are aged for more than 4 years, some more than 10 years.
Each Champagne House has its own flare, and Philippe Martin certainly stands out here. The do first fermentation in oak barrels for some/most of their prestige champagnes. They go steps further in making Rosé de Saignée sorted and de-stemmed by hand, separated and pressed in a small 75 year old wooden press making for a wonderful non-assembled rose (adding red wine into the white wine before being put in bottles for second fermentation)’ later put in oak barrels for first fermentation.
Philippe Martin offer very divers champagnes, from good quality cuvées rose and whites, to mono-cépage (typique) Pinot Noir old vine, Pinot Meunier, Blanc de Blancs Chardonnay, and that very special Rose de Saignée. Did I mention Cumières is one of the few villages to make a famous red wine sought out for blending into prestiges rose champagnes or simply enjoying. I have always appreciated their “nature” dosage zero for their premium aged vintages, a real treat. Their grapes are so good that the giant, Moët & Chandon buy grapes from them!
Some special tastings or tours are offered here. You can learn to Saber (sabrer) a bottle like a pro ( we used to practice on empty bottles!) or take a tour in the vineyards in an old but great famous 2 CV that Philippe Martin has loved since his childhood. There are also renovated rooms to stay in if you want to explore the region, here is a great way to do that!
What is nice, if the weather is not great what used to be the bottling side of the parking is now set up with tables so you can enjoy your champagne without getting wet.