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“LIVE” from Champagne, France Press Tour
Champagne Houses, Vignerons, Cathedrals, “Wine and War” Remembrances
We are LIVE here on a rainy, yet sunny August day in the center of the French Champagne region, Reims, France. The Champagne tourism bureau has graciously arranged interviews, tastings, and demonstrations with Champagne Houses, Growers/Vignerons, Barrel-makers (Cooperages), and tours of the historic sites and prestige vineyards of the region.
In an article for PrimeWomen Magazine a few years ago following a similar press trip, I wrote about the people of the Champagne regions living deep in the wine cellars and “creyères” – or caves of the large Champagne houses since actual battles were being fought above ground in the towns and vineyards. See “Champagne Region: Luxury Brands Steeped History.” The book, Wine & War more thoroughly discusses the battle for “France’s Greatest Treasure.”
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“The chalk creyères -caves- created to hold the aging Champagne bottles served and important function during World War I, sheltering the Champenoise people from the German bombings. Some cave junctions functioned underground hospitals, chapels, and kitchens.” – Wine and War
Champagne Press Trip Itinerary – Some Select Sites to Visit
*A Reims city tour includes the Reims Cathedral of Notre Dame, A 13th century UNESCO-listed French Gothic cathedral. Some of the stain glass windows were bombed-out in WW I and were replaced with window art by Chagall yet crafted by the same 12-generation family, Simon, as the original windows. The cathedral features newer windows celebrating the monk Dom Perignon, the Champagne crafting process, the vineyard towns, and the local French Champagne industry. This is the cathedral where all the French kings were crowned.
*The Surrender Museum- Discover the place at the end of World War II where there is a secret Map Room of the Allied Expeditionary forces. This is where General Eisenhower stayed “incognito” to signed and prepared the surrender documents prior to them being signed the next day in Berlin, VE Day, May 8, 1945.
*Champagne Ardenne Tonnellerie/cooperage - Go to a cooperate to discover how oak barrels are made and how they impact the taste of Champagne.
*Champagne Billecart-Salmon – This is one of my favorite Champagne houses to visit and one of the best rosé Champagnes in the world. Their broad portfolio and generous aging strategy make for a great tasting experience, my second time here.
*Pommery Champagne – great wines, unusual blue and gold neo-Gothic architecture.
*Veuve Clicquot – I came back to the most amazing tour of the 24 KMs of creyères, the site of the first woman owned Champagne house – the veuve or “widow” Clicquot who invented riddling racks from her dining room table. This house is part of the luxury LVMH family. The gift shop ranks with the best in the region.
*Champagne Charles de Cazanove- a great value Champagne, born in the early 1800’s.
*Pressoria – a sensory experience in wine -a museum in the heart of the vineyard areas near Aÿ.
Join me in the next few weeks as I continue the 2023 France Press Tour in Bordeaux, the Loire Valley, and Paris.
*Grower Champagne- the darling of many restaurant sommeliers, this is Champagne that is bottled and made by the same person who grew the grapes. This is in contrast to many large Champagne houses who buy grapes from dozens or hundreds of growers from across the region.
If You Go
Where to Stay
La Caserne Chanzy Spa and Hotel, Marriott Autograph Collection (our current choice).
Best Western Hôtel- La Paix - Center Reims -Modern rooms in the heart of Reims.
L’Assiette Champenoise (a Relais & Chateau Hotel) Stately hotel thar features its eponymous Michelin 3 Star Restaurant, Chef, Arnaud Lallement.
Where to Eat
L’ Assiette Champenoise, the restaurant – Michelin 3 Star, Tinqueux near Reims.
The following are my recommendations for restaurants in Reims :
Bistro des Anges- a welcoming bistro near La Caserne and the cathedral.
In the Champagne villages:
· La Grillade Gourmande – a wonderful stop for lunch between tastings
Address: 16 rue de Reims, Epernay France
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