Waking up bright and early this morning, one would expect we would explore the beautiful city of Paris, but we decided that it was essential to visit the Champagne region to experience the world’s finest. It’s only been in the last year or so that I’ve been turned on to champagne, primarily because of my mom’s obsession with it. But I will say that my love for those little bubbles has blossomed, and being in France, it seemed like we had to take advantage of the situation.
We hopped on the closest metro and headed to the train station. With over an hour to spare, we had our classic pan de chocolate and espresso, only to realize that we had arrived at the wrong train station! Mad panic, hearts racing, and quick navigational decisions, we reached where we actually should have been, with only minutes to spare. We boarded the train, exhausted already, yet so excited for our day!
Forty minutes later, we arrived in the city of Reims, smiles on our faces and ready to explore. We took the bus into town with our first stop being the Notre Dame Cathedrale. Again, the beauty and architecture continues to amaze me.
After a bit of walking around town, we headed to our first champagne stop: Taittinger. This winery dates back to 1734 with the relationship between Jacques Fourneaux and the Abbey of Saint-Nicaise. Although this winery has another site where the majority of their champagne is produced and stored, the location we visited still housed a mere three million bottles in the cellar. After a brief historical briefing and tour, we headed into the tasting room to try out their Brut Reserve and the Comtes de Champagne, the second of course being the older and better tasting!
After a quick snack, we headed to our next stop: Veuve Cliquot. This was a dream of mine to visit this winery and was truly spectacular. They offered world class service and provided a true “experience” that made our three hour visit one we’ll never forgot. The history and empowerment that you feel as a woman visiting the estate is inspiring. Madam Cliquot was widowed at 27 and took over the job of running the estate. She was an unstoppable business woman who developed several techniques in the champagne making industry, consistently being innovative and ahead of her times.
The tour itself was fantastic, with history of not only Madam Cliquot but also about the use of the cellars during WWI. Afterwards, we were taken into the tasting room where we tried the classic yellow label, as well as the Grand Dame. The difference in a good quality champagne has become so much clearer. We truly loved this experience!
Our final destination took us to a small winery called G.H Martel, where we only did a small tasting of three of their varieties. The final option was their reserve that is aged in oak barrels and had a very unique, but delicious, taste to it.
Course 1: We both selected the French onion soup, to accompany our wine, and were not disappointed.