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Cattier (or Champagne Cattier) is a family-owned Champagne house located in Chigny-les-Roses, a Premier Cru village of the Montagne de Reims, part of Champagne, France. The Cattier family has owned vineyards since 1625, and has been running the House for over 13 generations.
In 1916 Jean Cattier had to leave the battlefront because of a severe war injury. He came back to Chigny-les-Roses, where his family had been growing vines since 1625. The city of Reims, besieged by the German army, crumbled under the shells and 60% of the city was destroyed. Champagne merchants were trying to keep a modest activity in these tough conditions, but they couldn't get grapes in the nearby vineyards. In order not to lose his 1916 paltry harvest, Jean Cattier decided to produce his own champagne. The first bottles were released in 1918 to celebrate the end of WWI.
In 1936 his son Jean Cattier married Nelly. They had 3 children : Jean-Louis, Liliane and Jean-Jacques. They made the activity grow, shared their passion and then passed the company to their children. Jean-Louis took charge of the vineyard in the early 1960's, after having done his military service in Algeria. Liliane took care of the office duties and welcomed customers. Jean-Jacques, as an oenologist, was in charge of the wine-making process, and then dealt with the administrative and trade management.
In 1951 Jean Cattier acquired the Clos du Moulin, one of the rare historical clos in the Champagne region. He restored this 2.2 hectares parcel that was destroyed during the wars. He produced his first wine out of this parcel in 1952, his first bottling in 1953 and his first sale in 1956. It was, at the time, one of the two clos produced and sold in the Champagne region. Jean Cattier was then considered as a precursor for two main reasons : creating a cuvée that was both a clos and a prestigious champagne.
In 2011 Alexandre Cattier took over from his father, Jean-Jacques Cattier. He is also an oenologist and, like his father, is passionate about champagne. Alexandre and his cousins, Agathe and Marie, daughters of respectively Liliane and Jean-Louis, are still running the company today.
Cellars and architecture
The cellars of Champagne Cattier are located in Rilly-la-Montagne, with a storage capacity of 2 million bottles. Historically the depth of Champagne cellars is estimated by the number of steps, since there was no technical mean to measure it. With their 119 steps (27 meters), the cellars of Champagne Cattier are the deepest ones, just before those of the House Vranken-Pommery Monopole that are composed of 116 steps. Such a depth allows the champagnes to age in perfect conditions: at room temperature, sheltered from any turbulence from the outside. Champagne Cattier's cellars have the particularity of being dug on 3 levels. Each level is showing characteristics of a specific era : Gothic, Roman and Renaissance. During WWII the cellars were used as shelters from the bombings.
A sustainable vineyard
Nowadays, ethics and respect for the earth are major issues. Even if the Champagne region seeks excellence in all of its wines, both sparkling and still, it cannot be limited to the quality of them; it must be present from start to finish, and particularly in its care of its vines. Therefore, responsibilities and expectations are high in terms of sustainability for Champagne Cattier.
Champagne Cattier has been committed to this process for a generation, as one of the pioneering vineyards in the mid 1990's. At the time, Cattier's vineyards were "Ampléos" certified, according to standards set by winemakers who wanted to help protect plant and animal life when caring for their vines. Unfortunately, this standard never earned the recognition it deserved. In 2008, the "Grenelle" environmental law swept in and brought great advances in terms of sustainability. The various institutions and inter-professional organizations swiftly reacted, and began creating real-world solutions for winemakers.
The "Haute Valeur Environmentale" (HVE) certificate was introduced in 2012, and is overseen by the Ministry of Agriculture. Champagne Cattier seized the challenge and accepted the new constraints that the standard imposed. As a reward, its vineyards have been certified HVE level 3 (the highest level) since April 2015.
At the same time, our inter-professional organization was working to perfect another standard, labelled "sustainable vine-growing". This was finalized in 2012, and was specially adapted to Champagne vines. After obtaining its HVE certification, Cattier turned its attention to this label. And in 2017, Champagne Cattier was fully certified as sustainable vineyard !