The champagne region of France has been on our life list for years. Because of our connecting flights in/out of Brussels, this region was just about a four hours drive away.
Tell Me More!
Only grapes grown in this region of France are used to make champagne. Nothing else but the production of champagne. Plus, no other sparkling wine beverage can be called champagne. This area rules the name and the product.
Why these grapes are so special is because of a very specific item that’s found in the soil – chalk. Not only is the chalk essential for the grapes, it has also provided safety for the residents, the champagne production and cellaring.
The chalk was originally used for building, then the miles of caves were used for safety during the wars. Now, these chalk tunnels and caves are the fermenting and storage locations for millions of bottles of the bubbly.
We began our journey with the monk that figured out the riddle of exploding bottles – Dom Perignon.
Dom spent 47 years in the Abbye d’Hautvillars overseeing the production of wines, growth of the vineyards, building and management of the Abbey’s worlds affairs. His dedication to the process has shaped the whole of the champagne production.
In 1670, it was Dom who introduced corks that were fastened to bottles with hemp string (now wire cages) and thicker glass so that the bottles would not explode as the sparkle of the final champagne fermentation was processing.
Many years ago Jeff and his buddy Jack were hitchhiking across Europe and met two girls (of course). They were part of the Veuve Clicquot family and they took them for a tour of the caves.
Fast forward 42 years and we decided to visit VCP and do a tour and tasting. It was a wonderful 1.5 hour guided tour down into the caves to see the process of fermenting, storing the champagne in over 14 miles of tunnels and a tasting of their product. Our guide was wonderful but the two girls from 40+ years ago were nowhere to be found.
We stayed in this beautiful town and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It’s easy to get around on foot, many little local restaurants and you are right in the center of the champagne region. To be sure, they have an Avenue de Champagne.
The champagne houses line this beautiful street with many doors open for tours/tastings, you will be sure to find your favorite! All of the “important” labels can be found here: Moët and Chandon, Perrier Jouet, Boizel, Paul-Etienne Saint Germain and Castellane. While these houses with their showrooms may look grand, it’s the millions of bottles under your feet that drive this economy.
So, as the French say when they open a bottle and clink their glasses – A Sante’!
Enjoy your next stop.
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