As a big lover of wine and oenotourism, it seemed to me a shame not to have a tour in the vineyards close to Paris. So this time, I decided to go in Champagne.
I have chosen to make this tour accompanied by a guide-sommelier-driver who drove me in a private minivan (and I should add, quite cozy)
The advantage of Paris is that it takes only 1h30 to go to Champagne, which makes it easy to go there for a day trip.
My guide picked me up directly at my hotel in the morning. He even brought some croissants (I have never known how to say no to hot croissants). In the car, I talked with the other passengers who did the same tour as me. Our wine expert explained us all we needed to know about the Champagne through its history, its grape varieties (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay), its terroirs and its production process.
We began our day in the capital of Champagne wine: Epernay! What a good idea to begin our day in the historic heart of the Champagne.
I was really impressed by the “Avenue de Champagne” which is known as the richest avenue of the world because of the number and the price of the bottles stored in the galleries under our feet.
I was fascinated by the greatness and diversity of the architecture of the Champagne houses. But the most surprising was the hundreds of kilometers of galleries dug in the limestone where are ageing the most beautiful Champagne in the World (Perrier-Jouët, Pol Roger, and Moët & Chandon, only to mention them).
The charm of the houses from outside gave me the desire to go inside. Luckily our guide planned to bring us in one of the most prestigious house: Moët et Chandon.
We went to visit the cellars through this amazing underground network. Our guide explained us more about the history of Epernay and Moët et Chandon. After this underground walk, we went up to the surface to taste a champagne flute of Moët.
Nothing is better than a fresh bubble in the morning, that’s stimulating.
After our already full morning, my guide predicted an unavoidable problematic : The hunger. We went up north of Epernay to have lunch at a winemaker’s table in an intimate atmosphere : The familial winery Julien Chopin. The winemakers have hopefully the quality to be true gourmets.
The menu of our lunch :
- Duck rillette with raisins
- Chicken with mushrooms
- Local cheeses (Langres and Chaource)
- Strawberry pie
The meal was of course paired with Champagne. One 100% Pinot Meunier, A Champagne Brut, and a Champagne Rosé. We finished the lunch with Ratafia, an 18° liquor made with non-fermented grape juice (the must) and grape pomace from Champagne grapes (a brandy made with the skins and the seeds of the grappes) with taste of laurel, walnut, and dry fruits.
After this hearty meal, we took 30 minutes for a walk in the vineyards. The perfect occasion to breath fresh air and to have a look at the extended areas full of vines. I have always liked the quietness of the countryside. I was feeling very good here.
We finished our visit at Dom Caudron, a Champagne house in south-west of Reims. We visited the domain and the cellar, and we tasted a last cup of Champagne but this time I opened it myself with a saber !
I was lucky to saber a bottle. I didn’t think I would be able to do it but it was easier than what I thought (if you want to learn how to saber a bottle of Champagne you just have to click here)
After this last tasting, it was time to go back to Paris. But before that we had to greet Dom Pérignon. We went in his abbey in Hautvillers to learn more about this monk from the 18th century who improved the Champagne production process, as we know it today. After this last salute, we took the road of the return.
I have to say that being able to leave Paris to enjoy one of the most famous French vineyards gave me a lot of pleasure, and thinking about my next adventure in the wine world made me smile.
By making me driven by my guide to Paris I thought about this quote from Napoléon :
“ I can not live without Champagne. In victory, I deserve it. In defeat, I need it.”
Find our wineday tours on our travel agency’s website: Wine Passport : http://www.winepassport.fr/en/sejours-weekends-vin/wine-day-journee-en-champagne-depuis-paris-67