This month’s grower is Pierre Bertrand. You can find ‘Maison Pierre Bertrand’ in Cumières, around 2 kilometers from Hautvillers Abbey where our familiar friend, the illustrious monk Dom Pérignon lived, worked and is laid to rest.
Hautvillers village, often referred to as ‘the cradle of Champagne’, is surrounded by rolling slopes and vineyards. Both Hautvillers and Cumières are part of the ‘Historical Hills’ which, since 2015, have been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Many vineyards in this area sit on south-facing slopes. The south facing aspect enjoys the perfect level and intensity of sunlight needed to produce complex but well balanced grapes. Some of Pierre Bertrand’s vineyards sit on these slopes; giving them a great opportunity to produce quality wines. In their own words: “we make Champagne with character”.
Pierre Bertrand started his Champagne adventure in 1944, cultivating a small area of vines inherited from his grandmother. At the time, he was employed by a passionate winegrower and producer, who taught him the secrets of champagne making. Armed with this new knowledge, Pierre made the decision that, rather than delivering his grapes to the cooperative, he would create his own champagne. By 1946, Pierre Bertrand had his first bottle of champagne on the market.
It was a success, and from there the vineyard grew, so in 1956 Pierre Bertrand bought a cellar estate which, following the ravages of the great war, needed to be completely rebuilt. Today, they produce around 20,000 bottles of Champagne each year.
As with many of our growers, Pierre Bertrand is a family endeavor. Pierre and Madeleine Bertrand had seven boys and two girls. It was their daughter, Thérèse who chose to join her father and learn the art of champagne. In 1982 Thérèse and her husband Bernard took over the full management of the house.
Since 2010 their son - also named Bertrand, has joined Thérèse and her husband in growing and producing champagne, ensuring the vineyards stay within the family for another generation.
We had the chance to chat with Thérèse Bertrand and hear about Pierre Bertrand and her love of champagne…
Which part of the champagne making process do you find is most important and rewarding?
The most exciting: seeing the vies growing and cultivating them
The most satisfying: harvesting the grapes
The most important: measuring and maintaining temperatures during the wine ageing process
The most delicate: creating the right blend after having tasted the “vin clairs”
The most precise: blending the wines with respect for tradition
The most mysterious: gauging when we are at the perfect point of ageing
The most pleasant: the tasting!
What does Pierre Bertrand do differently from other champagne producers?
There are a few ways we do things differently at Pierre Bertrand.
We are a family run vineyard for over 3 generations and have received several accolades for some of our great champagnes.
Our vineyard is located in a very historical part of the Champagne region, which is very special and we grow all three of the core grape varieties here (Chardonnay, Menuier, Pinot Noir). In addition to this historical terroir, we are currently converting our vineyard to become more organic, using no herbicides and have been doing so for the last 2 years.
What other things do you like to drink besides champagne?
We also like to drink Champenois, which is wine produced locally here in the Champagne region. It has a lot of character, is smooth and easy to drink. These still wines go well with charcuterie, poultry and some firm-texture cheeses like Comté, Gruyère or Emmental.