Cote de Bar - the Aube The further South Chamapge AOC with a climate that becomes more continental middle France. Not the region for your typical Champagne houses but an interesting area for exploring to discover small producers with the bonus of lakes and outdoor recreation like golf, hiking, and cycling. This region is close to the historic city of Troyes a good base for hotels, shopping and gourmet food.
The vineyards of the ‘Côte des Bar’ represent about 7000 hectares. The champagne is produced by ‘mainly by vineyards owners’ (who work and make wine themselves with the product of their own vines) . Grape production is predominately Pinot Noir 87% Chardonnay – 7% and Meunier 5%
The wine route starts by leaving the motorway (exit 23), and heading for Essoyes on the banks of the Ource, where Renoir had a holiday home and where he’s buried. To get tourist information about Renoir and Champagne visits go to The ‘Maison de la Vigne’ 9 Place de La Maire – 10360 Essoyes Tel 0325 29 64 64 They have information on the cellars that will welcome you and give your telephone numbers as it is advisable to ring first. Also ask about ‘Champagne Ambassadors’, certain hotel-restaurants well known for their wine list. There is also an Eco-museum with information about work in the vineyard, making champagne and the 1911 uprising.
Head next for Les Riceys. With 870 hectares: Les Riceys is the largest village wine area in the whole of Champagne. Les Riceys is the only village in Champagne to boast 3 AOCs: Champagne, Coteaux Champenois and the famous rosé des Riceys, the perfect accompaniment for Chaource cheese.To enjoy the pleasant scenery of the vineyards, take a stroll looking out for cadoles: curious flat stone huts, built 2 centuries ago, which were used by winegrowers as shelter. For vineyard and general hiking and tourist information visit the Office du Tourisme des Riceys (Tourist Office Les Riceys): 3 place des Héros de la Résistance10340 Les Riceys Tel: + (0)3 25 29 15 38 . .Les Riceys rosé was Louis XIV’s favorite wine produced by strict rules, in its engraved bottle like a Châteauneuf-du-pape. A village commune Appellation, a dozen producers, no more than 80,000 bottles in the best years (and not every year) is a wine of interst and is said to age better than most roses . Next go up towards Bar-sur-Seine passing through Celles-sur-Ource, where you’ll find the largest proportion of ‘récoltants-manipulants’ (growers/winemakers) in the whole of Champagne. Those welcoming visitors will be signposted from road. You can head for Château de Bligny, one of two châteaux in AOC Champagne, with its park and collection of 1000 champagne flutes - or Urville, home of Champagne Drappier, Général De Gaulle’s favorite. Colombey-les-deux-Eglises village- De Gaulles burial place, is only 25 km away; on the way you can stop at Champagne’s Cristalleries Royales .You’ll find .It a nice spot for meditation at Clairvaux abbey with one thought that comes to mind is that the first vine stocks were planted here (from Hungary), which would later give birth to Champagne. .