The Abbey at Hautvillers began with a dream.
While dozing one afternoon, Saint Nivard, the twenty-fifth archbishop of Reims, dreamt he saw a dove circling a beech tree. When he awoke, there was a real dove flying over the tree he had been sleeping under. The archbishop took this as a sign, a divine message exhorting him to build a new abbey with the altar marking the site of the vision.
This occurred in the 7th century and the abbey was placed under the Rule of Saint Benedict. Saint Nivard's dream makes the abbey one of those rare places where the voices of nature and God unite to inspire the talent of humankind.
During the 17th century, when the so-called golden rays of Louis XIV (the Sun King) illuminated the French court, Dom Pierre Pérignon (1638-1715), a Benedictine monk and the monastery cellar master at Hautvillers Abbey, was using the quiet time reserved for prayer and reflection to develop a wine whose extraordinary quality made him one of the great visionaries of the winemaking world.
Today, Dom Pérignon's spirit and legacy live on in the silence and stones of Hautvillers Abbey, inspiring the generations of winemakers who follow in his footsteps.Dom Pierre Pérignon, The Man
Dom Pérignon's genius was not a lightning stroke of brilliance, but rather the radiating, generous illumination of the spirit. Dom Pierre Pérignon is revered as the spiritual father of winemaking in the Champagne region. Keen observation, respect for nature, pragmatic creativity, technical innovation, perfection in every detail, the courage of his convictions, and patience were the instruments serving his vision.
Dom Pérignon had two ambitions for his wine. One was to increase the abbeys' income for which wine, through the levying of tithes, was the main source.
But above all, Dom Pérignon longed to produce the "best wine in the world" and wanted it to be desired as such by Louis XIV, his exact contemporary. And it is documented in court orders that the Sun King had a penchant for the "straw-colored wine of Father Pérignon
It was genuine vision that gave birth to the wine of Hautvillers Abbey. A vision calling for excellence and mastery. It implied the ability to improve on nature when it is imperfect and inconsistent. Dom Pérignon was dedicated to perfecting sparkling wine. He constantly mastered and incorporated all its components and the stages of its production, from the vineyards themselves to the pressing and clarification of the wines and their preservation. This same quest for perfection inspires and guides the Chef de Cave
(A Chef de Cave
is the head winemaker at Champagne house, who is responsible for all aspects of production, from managing the vineyard and overseeing vinification to blending, aging and all the way up to a wine’s final bottling.)
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