Cattier is a family-owned Champagne house in Chigny-les-Roses in the Montagne de Reims, halfway between Reims and Epernay. Although they are known on their own among champagne connoisseurs, they came to my attention–and to that of many champagne drinkers I assume–when they released Armand de Brignac, the champagne of superstar rapper Jay-Z. This is why I initially approached them, to later realize that they make charming champagnes, and a delicious and much more affordable prestige cuvée: Clos du Moulin.
The Cattier family has owned vineyards in Chigny-les-Roses since 1625.
In 1916, Jean Cattier was wounded during WW1. As he returned to his home in Chigny-les-Roses, he was unable to sell the poor harvest of that year. He hence decided to turn his grapes into wine and produce his own champagne, released at the end of the war in 1918. This signaled the birth of Cattier champagne.
His son Jean took over in 1936, and together with his wife Nelly Adam greatly expanded the business. In 1959, they purchased Clos du Moulin, one of the very few enclosed vineyards of Champagne, which has been used separately ever since to make their prestige cuvée. By 1967, this small family operation produced 100,000 bottles a year.
In 1971, it was the turn for their son Jean-Jacques to take over. After graduating in enology at the University of Reims, he expanded the international reach of the house, in Europe and beyond.
In 2006, Cattier partnered with Sovereign Brands, an American wine and spirit company, to craft a new ultra-premium champagne. This is how Armand de Brignac was established.
Today, patriarch Jean-Jacques Cattier oversees the wine production together with his son Alexandre–current president and chef de cave. He also graduated in Enology at the University of Reims and trained in Australia before joining the family business in 2003. His cousins Agathe and Marie closely work with him to further develop the house and the Cattier brand.
Vineyard and Production
The family owns 33 ha, mainly premiers crus in the heart of the Montagne de Reims where they introduced sustainable viticultural practices and High Environmental Value Certification (HVE) in 2015. The vineyard includes a walled plot of 2.2 ha–Clos du Moulin–planted half with pinot noir and half with chardonnay. They complement the supplies with grapes from small vine growers, to produce about 1 million bottles per year. The winemaking is traditional, in stainless steel vats, with malolactic fermentation, and normal dosages. Their cellars are among the deepest in Champagne, providing ideal conditions for aging with at low, constant temperatures. The cellar rooms where the Armand de Brignac simile-gold bottles age are a feast for the eyes.
I find their wines uncomplicated, fruity, round and easy to drink. They express the prevalence of meunier, together with the vinosity of pinot noir and the elegance of chardonnays from the Montagne de Reims–suppler than those from the Côte des Blancs–accompanied with a dosage between 8 and 9 g/l (6 g/l for Clos du Moulin).
The range of champagnes is unusual, with three brut non-vintage, and one brut nature. They are all made with the three grape varieties of Champagne and with a majority of meunier, but with different composition in percentages and of crus of origins. They also produce a blanc de blanc, a rosé, and a dry with a dosage of 25 g/l, also available in rosé. They also include a vintage cuvée. But what I find really interesting is Clos du Moulin, a multi-vintage cuvée made with equal parts of pinot noir and chardonnay and that is aged for eight years. It really surprised me when I first had it; so satisfying. It is now also available in rosé.