Champagne – the very word brings to mind celebration, luxury, and even decadence. Here you will discover the secret of the bubble, see the miles of cellars dug out of chalk where millions of bottle age gracefully, learn how champagne is made, and find out what makes it so special. The highlight of any tour are the visits to hand-picked family producers who offer unbeatable quality and value, as well as a very personal experience. The beautiful city of Reims is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its stunning cathedral and art nouveau architecture, not to mention numerous fine restaurants, brasseries and bars.
The 320 villages where champagne is made are spread over five sub-regions: Montagne de Reims, Cote des Blancs, Vallee de la Marne, Cote de Sezanne and, further south, Cotes de Bar/Aube Valley. The villages are graded in three tiers according to the percentage of chalk in the soil, with 41 classed as 1er Cru and 17 as Grand Cru, the top level.
The three main grapes used to make champagne are – Chardonnay, a green grape, and Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, black grapes, and these account for 99% of all plantings. Most champagnes are a blend of all 3 and each brings a different character to the blend. The other ‘minority’ grapes are Arbanne, Petit Meslier and Pinot Blanc.
The most northerly wine region in France, Champagne has a predominantly Continental climate with cold winters and warm summers, though there is some Oceanic influence. The average temperature over the year is typically only around 11 degrees Celsius. Spring frosts can be a major problem. The sub-soil is limestone, and above it, one of the unique factors of the region, are huge chalk deposits. The chalk is ideal for digging out extensive cellars which are needed for ageing the millions of bottles.
Past Tours to Champagne
One word for the most famous sparkling wine region? Champagne, of course. We were there and we loved it. A lovely 4-star hotel right in the centre of Reims was the perfect starting point. We explored one of the Grande Marques to peek at their extensive cellars. But we were even luckier, meeting some smaller family producers. There’s nothing like sharing a few glasses with them, hearing their stories and buying some excellent quality champagne at very reasonable prices. Now that’s the sort of experience that money can’t buy.
JOIN US ON AN UPCOMING WINE TOUR
Champagne WINE TOUR
16-18 July 2021
If you have ever wanted to visit this fascinating area, discover the secret of the bubble, and find out what makes champagne the celebratory drink par excellence, then this is the weekend for you. You will see the miles of cellars dug out of chalk where millions of bottle age gracefully, learn how champagne is made, and discover what makes it so special. You will visit one Grande Marque producer and, the highlight of the weekend…three hand-picked family producers who offer unbeatable quality and value as well as a very personal experience. There will also be time to explore the beautiful city of Reims from our centrally located hotel and sample its fine restaurants.