The champagne experience
Champagne is the main industry of this historic one UNESCO protected area of France. The city of Reims was one of the hardest hits of World War I, symbolized by the destruction and rebuilding of the Reims Cathedral. Each stop along the way will remind you of the historic battlefields in the campaigns of World War I. The champagne cellars even protected citizens from the bombings of World War II. Some champagne houses had to continue production during both wars to keep the drink and economy going. The French do not concern themselves with the past, but always honor it and look to a future for champagne creation. The indomitable French spirit of patriotism and renewal is always present in this region.
The best way to tour champagne: from grand to boutique
Family stories of heroism and sacrifice are part of the local culture that reverberates with every glass of champagne raised in celebration. There are many champagne houses to visit from a small boutique or family home to the more well-known champagne names that are spread around the world. If you are visiting the region, I recommend planning a multi-day tour with a private car or a Mercedes mini-bus tour with a group. RUINARTis the oldest ongoing champagne house in the world. Once you’ve seen and tasted champagne created for the kings of France, your champagne journey begins. The property of RUINART is elegant and well designed with the largest cellars in France. You enter the vestibules of the main building to view a unique art collection. Then descend into the depths of the caves where the secrets of making champagne are revealed. As a grand old house, making champagne is a sacred tradition.
Roadtripping in Champagne
My next favorite trip is exploring the small towns by car with a local guide who will take you to smaller champagne family houses. This personalized trip was intended to showcase the landscape and views of the region. Next, you’ll want to see the church and former monastery where the famous monk himself created champagne. Then, take a door-to-door visit to meet the families who are dedicated to making champagne. This is the heart and soul of the region. I don’t want to discourage your trip to some of the larger champagne houses, but the true character of the region lies at the heart of the family business. You might be surprised to learn that champagne has a wide variety of flavors, ranging from an 18th century style that is closer to wine to more modern or clearer interpretations that can have a lighter taste. This is the “Brut” style and the “75-25” style refers to a balanced aroma between the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. If you are familiar with rose champagne, the fine balance of taste in combination with the skin of the Pinot Noir grapes gives it its unique blush color. Everyone has their favorite style and once your tour is over you can look forward to a formal or informal tasting experience.
Tips for organizing your visit
There are many experiences in Champagne, from the lovely hotels that serve the local drink to the town of REIMS, a very walkable town. If you’re looking to book accommodation don’t forget to pre-book your tours and include a special meal that you need to pre-book. Private guides and small tours are the best way to see the region. The French division of Champagne tourism offers guides, maps and tours. The center is located in downtown REIMS and is listed on your google map. It directs you to the friendly people who can help you on site. You can also go online before your visit to make sure your accommodations and tours or reservations are ready. The TGV train from Paris is 55 minutes and takes you to the center of the city. You can also step into the station bar and have a drink to start your visit.
Champagne houses for a one day tour: Ruinart, Tattinger and Pol Couronne champagne
POl COURONNE CHAMPAGNE – Located in downtown Reims
The boutique champagne maker is a discovery of a family creator POL CROWN Who has a history of creation that goes back to a family of breeders. The youngest members of the family have decided to expand their business with a boutique label that you can try right on Reims main street in the shadow of Reims Cathedral. Their tasting room was originally a jewelry store, and each bottle of champagne is displayed like a family gem. The intimate comfort is inviting to those who are trying it for the first time. There is an outside cafe with tables for you to enjoy as well. What you will learn from many champagne lectures and tours is how champagne is made, but a very personal experience in an intimate setting like this shop. You could even speak to the company’s CEO, John the Baptist Who stays in the tasting room to greet the guests. The team of interns all speak a variety of languages and make you feel welcome when they serve you. You will feel very close to the creation of this label and enjoy the modern, fresh style and approach.
RUINART and Tattinger: Grand Champagnes with family tradition
I chose this combination because if I only had one day I would go. Tattinger located just a short drive from the city center and RUINART is a slightly longer trip but takes you into the countryside surrounded by vineyards. I mentioned RUINART’s unique architectural experience, which is different from the more industrial location of Tattinger. However, the Tattinger family also own a historic castle in the region, which is designed for events and special visits, as well as family gatherings, but is generally not open to the public. You can choose where to try, but choose a hotel that is a good place to start, whether it’s old world style YOU BELIEVE YOU A spa style hotel or an Air Bnb in the city center. All travel budgets are possible and after your short drive on the TGV train of the Charles De Gaulle Airport In Paris, get off the train to begin your adventure. The best time of year to visit champagne is in summer or early fall, just before the grapes are harvested.
All champagnes are available at your local liquor or wine store, and champagnes are from POL CROWN available at WINEVIP.com.
Courtesy of Pol Couronne Champagne. The REIMS tasting room in the city center is within sight of the REIMS cathedral.
Hotel les Creyeres with that writer’s champagne in the bar. I drank the champagne Winston Churchill preferred. Photo courtesy Artifice Atelier. The gardens surrounding this hotel are the setting for a famous food festival and a 2-star Michelin restaurant.
Visit the Tattinger Tasting Room. Here the varieties are shared by friendly bartenders after your tour. Photo courtesy of ARTIFICE ATELIER
Photo of the unique art collection from RUINART and Baccarat Crystal. Photo credit: Artifice Atelier