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For almost five hundred years, the Philipponnat family has left its mark on the soil of the Champagne region. Generations of men and women have cultivated the land at Ay, the family’s home since the time of Apvril le Philipponnat who owned vines at Le Léon, between Ay and Dizy, in 1522. In the 16th century the family’s ancestors were winegrowers and merchants, suppliers to the court of Louis XIV, magistrates and Royal Mayors of Ay – a town which was directly dependent on the Crown since the era of the Counts of Champagne.
Established in the heart of the Champagne wine-growing area, Philipponnat possesses a unique heritage. Its magnificent, historic 18th century cellars were part of the Château de Mareuil. Philipponnat has owned an exceptional walled vineyard, unparalleled in the Champagne wine-growing area, for nearly a century: Clos des Goisses. The name of this 5.5 hectare plot with a 45° incline reflects its nature: in the old Champagne dialect, Gois or Goisse means a very steep slope. It is also the region’s warmest terroir: facing due south, this pure chalk slope receives no shade from sunrise to sunset.
Philipponnat’s 17 hectares of vines, situated at the heart of the Champagne wine-growing area in Ay, Mareuil-sur-Ay and Avenay, are classified Premier and Grand Cru. Philipponnat works to preserve these precious and fragile, centuries-old terroirs, by using natural methods to work the soil, hoeing by hand and ploughing with horses. The House has found the best possible way to renew its traditions while perpetuating the best they have to offer. Emphasis is put on conservation and meeting challenges to unceasingly improve the quality of the wines.
Philipponnat’s expertise is particularly apparent in its use of the solera process. This technique is a very longstanding House tradition; it consists of keeping reserve wines in oak barrels and including them in non-vintage blends (in a proportion of one quarter to one third) and using this blend as a reserve wine for the following blend. This progressive dilution allows every bottle to retain a trace of previous years’ wines blended since the very beginning. Successive Cellar Masters have attached great importance to handing down this expertise.