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Champagne

Champagne

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.

Main Regions

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.

Main Grapes

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.

Terroir & Climate

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.

Fun Fact

The pressure in a champagne bottle is 6-bar, which is equivalent to being 50 metres underwater! The champagne bottle, with glass strong enough to withstand the pressure, was invented by an Englishman, Sir Christopher Merrett, in 1662.

Past Tours to Champagne

You can see why this is the world’s most famous red wine producing region. The gorgeous dry whites & the luscious sweet wines: Bordeaux has it all, as we discovered on this long weekend trip. We took a trip to a cooper to see how oak barrels are made. We went to some top chateaux in the Medoc, Sauternes, Graves, St. Emilion and Pomerol. We dined like royalty on delicious food, enjoying the beautiful city from our centrally located hotel. Beautiful Bordeaux, you stole our hearts.

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