Champagne Wine Touring - The Champagne Trails and Routes With Suggested Stops
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"I only drink Champagne when I'm happy, and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it - unless I'm thirsty." Lily Bollinger
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Campagne Tasting Rooms- Champagne Wine Routes - Experience Classic Champagne Show tours at the famous houses or personal tours at small family Champange vineyards.
For short driving tasting trips to Champagne take the ~ Euro Tunnel - once in France only a two and half hour drive to Reims.
Only sparkling wine that comes from this region of France can properly be called Champagne. It is France’s northern most A.O.C. wine-producing region, and is divided into 4 major districts- see map. The most famous Champagne houses are easy to visit as they are mainly in the towns of Reims and Epernay. - For Locations go to -Villages and Vineryards pages - These major producers give excellent tours for understanding and appreciating the “Methode Champagne” in impressive contexts of vast and unique underground chalk caves. Included in the tour price is a choice champagne tastings – you choose how many glasses and what quality you will taste at end of tour.
For smaller independent producers each district has a signposted wine route that strings together the villages via main and rural roads. Sign posted on these routes are the local Champagne houses that have tasting rooms and sell direct to visitors. The Montagne de Reims route starts in Reims and travels 75 kilometers south to Epernay.The 52-kilometer Marne Valley route begins in Epernay and goes west to Vincelles.The Côte des Blancs routegoes for 110 kilometers from Epernaysouth to Villenauxe-la-Grande.
Dom Pérignon, a Benedictine monk residing at Hautvillers abbey -Marne Valley- around 1700, is credited with discovering the unique double fermentation process, méthode champenoise, that gives champagne wines their effervescence. Only three varieties of grapes are used to produce Champagne - Chardonnay, a white grape, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, red grapes. Most Champagnes are made with a blend of juices from all three varieties, which can come from vineyard plots in different parts of the champagne region and from different year harvists. This gives the winemaker lots of choice and an espescially important role in the resulting qualtiy. Champagnes made exclusively from the Chardonnay grapes are known as Blanc de Blancs. Vintage Champagne – the blending grapes from only one years harvist are made infrequently- only a few times every decade. These are the considered the superior years of Champagne’s grape harvists.
The Champagne Tastings - Visit Slick Corporate Champagne Cellars and Small Family Domaine Producers - To Get the Full Champagne Travel Experience.
To get an understanding of Champagne visit two or more major houses and some smaller vinyards producer suppliers before buying. This will help you understand the types of Champagnes available and to try them.
Reims - is a small city with museums, boutiques, several Champagne – wine souvenir stores. There are good restaurants many offering a range of oysters and other dishes to compliment Champagne. Besides city centre independent hotels, all the major French hotel chains are represented near the city centre and on the North outskirt- Tinqueux. . Because of damage to buildings during the wars, there is no Reims old town, but to be central park near the magnificent, historic Cathedral where Joan of Arc participated in the coronation of Charles VII in1429. Here you can start your Champagne education by viewing the 20th century stained glass windows on the Cathedral’s north side.
It’s worth taking more than one house tour as each has different emphasis – for instance Pommard has impressive art in its cellars, while Mumm concentrates on educating you about Champagne and has an excellent museum. All have interesting chalk cellars with some of these dating back to Roman times dug for chalk pits. Other remaining Roman ruins are the Porte Mars on the large round-about near city centre Cimetiere du Nord and the Roman grain store on Place du Forum. One further interesting tourist site is the Basilica of St. Remy – it predates the Cathedral by two centries and holds the remains of St. Remy who converted Clovis to Christianity and crowned him King of the Franks in 496.
Saint-Thierry Massif wine route – Vineyard Grape production, is dominated by Meunier, followed closely by Pinot Noir while the rest of land produces just 12% Chardonnay.
Accor hotels - Novotel- Mercure- Ibis and Etap located throughout region.
At Cumieres you take a different tour of Champagne region. Cruise down the Marne River information from SARL Croisi Champagne 12, rue de la coopérative BP22 - Embarcadère : Quai de la Marne 51480 CUMIERES - Tél. +33 (0)3 26 54 49 51 . They offer guided curises down Marne river, often with lunch and commentary on vineyards. On some extended cruises guided walks are included. On Weekends there are dinner cruises with cabert and dancing.
EPERNAY Champagne Touring - An Important Champagne Trail
CROSS-ROADS OF CHAMPAGNE The heart of Champagne tourism, joining the well-known vineyard regions and wine touring roads. Its a town of 25.000 inhabitants located between the Marne River and vine-covered slopes, Epernay is surrounded by hills covered with the grapevines with villages having many excellent small Champagne producers and rural restaurants - Auberges - with great food and gardens.
THE EPERNAY AVENUE DE CHAMPAGNE is Home to world famous Champagne houses. LIke Reims these major house are worth a visit having more than 100 kilometres of impressive tunnels dug into the chalk in which millions of bottles in of Champagne are slowly ageing. ( See Villages and Vineyards for list of producers).
From generation to generation, vineyards and Champagne craftsmanship have passed down. As in the other great French wine producing areas, you get the feeling these families have become part of the terroir.
Tarlant Champagnes are respected and served in leading restaurants around the world like Noma - World number 1 in Top Fifty Restauarants and Eleven Madison Park – EMP_ in New York voted Outstanding Restaurant in USA – 2011, rated number 24 in World Top Fifty.. A visit to their tasting rooms is worthwhile to get a full understating of care and attention necessary to get and maintain a reputation like this. Also it's a great opportunity to buy Champagnes for 25 to 80 Euros that sell in restaurants for several hundred Euros. An added bonus is the views of Marne river valley from outside their tasting room.
Rob Kihlstrom, Eleven Madison Park sommelier, samples the range under the guidence of Benoît Tarlant.
The Tarlant mission statement could apply to several quality independents in the Marne in the champange regions. "We endeavour to maintain the spirit and authentic values of the artisan winegrower and to create an emotional character by making each of our champagnes a unique experience in tasting."
Montagne de Reims , Pinot Noir and Meunier are main grapes with Chardonnay under 20% of production. This 70 km drive through undulating hills and vineyards is punctuated by the famous Champagne villages names. Of special interest is the grand cur village of Verzenay and its Moulin – windmill. In Mailly-Champagne visits its cooperative Champagne Mailly Grand Cru 28 rue de la libération 51500 . phone +33 3 26 49 41 10 for purchasing excellent value champagne . Also visit the village of Bouzy where there are many makers of fine champagne and more uniquely the Bouzy Rouge a still wine red Pinot Noir wine worth buying for the name alone. Dizy Campagne also falls into this interesting name category. From our list of vineyards by town you will notice that other villages like Ambonnay and Fountaine-Sur Ay have several producers with tasting rooms. Along the route you will find many more signs for tasting rooms and sales, so for choice this route is excellent . Plus there is the bonus of many fine village restaurants and country Auberges along the way.
The best walk in the vineyards of Champagne starts in the village of Mutigny -about 8 km to the north east of Eperany Here the growers have set up a 2.2 kilometer walk through the hillside . The walk with great views has 12 sign posted stations .- information about the vineyards and grape growing in English and French.. .
A Spooky place. The Faux de Verzy Trees - Because these "faux" remain something of a botanical enigma, the Verzy Forest is shrouded in magical mystery. Virtually unique in Europe, there are about 800 of these trees at Verzy. They are protected by log barriers, but there are footpaths and explanatory panels – for an interesting experience have a sunset picnic there with a few bottles of champagne.
Rail Europe -Reims is less than 2hours by train from Paris.
Further South is the town of Chalons en Champagne with the Champagne house of Joseph Perrier with beautiful cellars worth a visit. 69 Avenue de Paris, BP 31 51016 Châlons-en-Champagne
Côte des Blancs and Côte Sézanneof harvist 97% Chardonnay – 1% Meunier 2% Pinot Noir. Running North to South along the plateau of Brie this region is planted almost exclusively with Chardonnay, so it is natural that it is especially known for its excellent value Blanc de Blancs featuring finesse and elegance. Just outside Epernay is the village Chouilly home to Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte 51206 Chouilly, tel 0326 59 55 65 – a well known house with tasting room and tours. At Cramant you will see the giant Champagne Bottle– 8.5metres – 32 feet high.
Many villages along this route have several independent suppliers with tasting rooms examples are the viallages Chavat- Courcour, Avize , Oger– a special place is Champagne Henri de Vaugency 51190 tel 0326575089 this location has a museum of “Marriage et Champagne” , Vertus here among the producers look out for – Champagne Paul Goerg- 4 Place de Mont Chenil 51130 - they have the world largest collection of wine bottle capsules.
For information on Cote de Bar - Click here