People have been growing grapes in the Champagne region of France for hundreds of years, so it’s not at all uncommon to meet people who say they are the 5th, 6th, or even 7th generation of their family to be grape growers. You can make a decent living growing and selling grapes, but it takes someone with just that little bit more vision and self-confidence to actually start making and selling his own champagne.
In the Manceaux family that person was Roger Manceaux who , still only a young boy, wisely resisted the temptation of a bicycle as a gift from his father for passing his school certificate. He opted instead for a plot of vines. That was in 1947 but even then he saw big things ahead in the future and the rest, as they say, is history.
Today his son and daughter, Patrick Manceaux and Agnès Givry, manage an estate of 12 hectares (30 acres) based in the village of Rilly-La-Montagne about 10 kilometres from the city of Reims
All the vineyards are classified as Grand Cru or Premier Cru and, as is often the case in Champagne, they are spread out over 80 different individual plots in 5 different villages.
The advantage of that is that the varied terroirs of the 5 villages allow Patrick and Agnès to grow all 3 of the main grapes varieties used in Champagne: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. That in turn means they can bring a wonderful complexity to their blends and create a range of 8 champagnes of different styles.
Patrick takes care of the work in the vineyards and in the winery while Agnès handles the commercial side of the business including the marketing. You only have to meet Agnès once to see where the creativity and energy behind this relatively small, but growing champagne brand comes from and you can see it even more clearly in the stunning new look that is gradually being rolled out across the range.
The latest addition is called Héritage, a vintage champagne from the 2005 harvest which Patrick decided to age in oak barrels in honour of his grandfather who was a cooper by trade.
One can’t help thinking that he would be proud of his son and grandchildren.
Author: Jiles Halling is a long-time resident in Champagne. You can find out more on www.mymaninchampagne.com and discover more about Champagne Roger Manceaux at