Designated in teal on la carte, the vineyards that make up the Côte des Bar region are located in the southernmost corner of Champagne, approximately 100km from Reims and a closer neighbour to Chablis in northern Burgundy. Comprising a total of 63 villages, the Côte des Bar contributes approximately 23 per cent of the vineyard area to the appellation of Champagne.
The terrain of the Côte des bar is undulating and the villages are spread out and rural in style. Due to the distance of the region from the other regions of Champagne, the nature of the soil makeup is quite different. The vineyards of the Côte des Bar are located on Kimmeridgian marl which, in lay terms, is a combination of limestone and clay. This is contrasting to the chalky limestone soils found in the north of Champagne. The southern geographical location of the Côte des Bar is also advantageous as the sunnier and warmer climate improves the growing and ripening ability of the grapes.
On la carte you can see the two subregions within the Côte des Bar marked in different hues: Bar-sur-Aubois, situated in the north around the Aube river and its tributaries, and Barséquanais, situated along the Seine river in the south of Côte des Bar. There is also an appellation, Les Riceys, situated within the Barséquanais which produces a rosé still wine called Rosé des Riceys. Les Riceys is designated on the map in an orange hue.
In the Côte des Bar there are three main varieties of grape planted: pinot noir, chardonnay and meunier. Pinot noir, a black grape, accounts for approximately 85% of the vines planted in the region and its characteristic rich fruity flavours with an elegant feel are even more pronounced. Chardonnay, a white grape, accounts for 10% of the planting. With the warmer climate, chardonnay’s natural tendencies are more pronounced and it imparts flavours of stone or exotic fruit. Meunier, another black grape, accounts for approximately 4% of the total planting. There are very small quantities of two other grape varieties: arbanne and pinot blanc, both of which are heirloom varieties of Champagne.
When producers first tried to create the appellation of Champagne in 1908, they excluded the Côte des Bar because they felt it should be considered a separate region, due to its distance from the other growing regions. However when the official Champagne appellation was eventually created the Aube département was formally included as one of five precisely defined regions making up the appellation of Champagne. The struggle for inclusion in the AOC has given rise to proud and pioneering champagne producers whose wines have as much character as they do.
Historically, the majority of the Côte des Bar grape production was supplied directly to the northern Houses of Champagne to supplement and enhance their production. Today, the opinion has fully turned and the distinctive and innovative champagnes from Côte des Bar, produced by a younger generation of growers, are highly prized and sought after.
The combination of the unusual soil profile, with the Kimmeridgian marl comprising more clay than chalk, and the warmer climate gives the champagnes of the Côte des Bar a characteristic stamp: a deep fruit flavour that is more stone fruit than citrus and a fresh, lively makeup.
The teal shade for this map signifies the fading of the bright blue summer sky to a cooler hue with underlying yellow and orange tints reminiscent of the autumnal leaves. Think of the crispness of autumn, marked by the first open fire and cravings for food with intensified flavours. Champagnes from this region make the perfect partner for the delicious, sun-saturated flavours of autumn produce.