Dom Pérignon, working closely with the Bâtiments de France national heritage agency, reached out to local artisans to restore the Abbey of Saint-Pierre d'Hautvillers, the birthplace of the champagne House.
It was at Abbey Saint-Pierre in Hautvilliers that Pierre Pérignon, a Benedictine monk, perfected the blend for the champagne in the 17th century. He claimed it was “the best in the world” and, over the centuries, it has never betrayed its reputation.
Four centuries later, the Dom Pérignon brand is backing a highly detailed restoration project – three years of preparation and nine months of building work – to return the abbey to its former glory.
In 2009, Dom Pérignon commissioned François Chatillon, chief architect for historic landmarks, to undertake a preliminary study. As the cloister and the Sainte-Hélène main door have historic landmark status, Bâtiments de France and the champagne House have worked together to oversee the renovations.
Dom Pérignon used master craftsmen and local materials for the work. For example, to restore the door to the abbey, the Bâtiments de France architect drew inspiration from a 17th century door in nearby Châlons-en-Champagne. After more than eighteen months of research and preparation work, it took two craftsmen from the Compagnons du Devoir organization three months to renovate this spectacular piece, which they made out of oak from the Ardennes Forest, using specially made tools to reproduce the original moldings.
The work on the cloister, meanwhile, was carried out by four stonecutters using 17th century methods. It took them more than 3,350 hours on site and 1,900 hours in the workshop to render and sculpt the buttresses, strengthen the vaults, repair the floors and build the outside staircase. All the stone needed for the restoration work was quarried in the Yonne and Meuse departments. The centerpieces of the framework and the roof covering were replaced with identical copies and the roof re-tiled using Falempin tiles.
Patiently restored, Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers remains true to its calling as a place of creativity and remembrance of Dom Pérignon.