Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers Abbey, the Heart and Soul of Dom Pérignon

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It’s an exceptional location. Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers Abbey has seen both powerful and meek, kings and priests, come through its door. In the beginning there was a dream. It was Saint Nivard, the fifth bishop of Reims and nephew of King Dagobert who had this dream. One day in the first century A.D., he was returning to Reims by way of Épernay – fatigued from his travels, he stopped in the land of Hautvillers where he nodded off against a tree. In his sleep, he saw a dove drawing circles around a beech tree. When he opened his eyes, he was surprised and frightened to see that the bird was still there, flying above the tree he had been sleeping under. There was no doubt about it: this was a divine invitation for the bishop to build a new abbey. And so he founded the d’Hautvillers Abbey and placed it under the auspices of Saint Benoit. The year was approximately 650. The abbey would prosper despite history’s vicissitudes. Destroyed by the Normands in 882, restored then burned by the English in 1449, rebuilt then razed by the Huguenots in 1564. “(…) Thanks to the gifts of Catherine de Médicis, it would reach a new height at the end of the 17th century before being torn down in 1793.”

Much later, when Pierre Pérignon took over the abbey in 1668, the monk took on the mission of creating “the best wine in the world”. He wanted to modernize the abbey, expanding its wine-making domain to bring adequate revenues to the community and help develop it. On his tombstone it can be read: “Here lies Dom Pérignon, cellarer in this monastery for forty-seven years. His administration of familial affairs afforded him the greatest of eulogies, recommendable by his virtues and full of paternal love for the poor.” This visionary spirit and his extraordinary audacity led him to reinvent everything, from the plantation to the vines, to the mixture and the creation process in between. It’s even said that he was the one who discovered champagne. Thanks to him, Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers became the greatest wine-producing domain in the Champagne region.

Dom Pierre Pérignon knew well that the d’Hautvillers domain was able to transcend and elicit an inspired and inspiring experience. He understood that the reign of Louis XIV was distinguishable by its excellence and inventiveness. The Sun King brought together the most remarkable artisans and the most famous artists at his court – and he wanted to be part of it. Numerous were the men of power in the Church like Leon X, François 1st, or Charles Quint who appreciated the “tranquil wines of the Marne river”. Indeed, Dom Pérignon’s wine is special because it’s a millésime vintage, only created during certain exceptional harvest years. And this tradition continues today. Upon one’s arrival at Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers, the monastery’s singular presence fascinates and awes. Here, something incredible was born. Something that forever changed the history of art de vivre – this is the sacred character of Saint=Pierre d’Hautvillers Abbey, standing watch for over a thousand years over Dom Pérignon champagne

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