One of my guilty pleasures in life is… obviously… champagne. Why? More than the good taste, it gives me the feeling of royalty. You know how we always open a bottle of champagne only for really big events? Why? Well, because it’s expensive… and… it’s expensive. So, we keep it for the important moments that we want to celebrate with.. sparkling!
And when I’m into something, I like to dig in a little to find out more about the subject matter, in this case, champagne. So I planned a little day trip in Champagne-Ardenne, the region of France where champagne is produced. So, Route du Champagne, here we come!
In a little town, called Epernay, which is about 150 km est from Paris, you will discover the home city of the devil’s wine. In the 16th century in was called like that because that bottles wouldn’t stop exploding. And, no…it was not invented by Dom Perignon, as he was born much later (a century later). He had only a very good nose and a talent in mixing grapes, which contributed in having the champagne we have today. As mush as I would like to think this is the birth place of champagne, it isn’t. This magical liquor was born down in the south thanks to the Benedictine Monks in the French region Languedoc-Roussillon and it’s called Blanquette de Limoux. That’s just a tiny piece of history before heading up to Avenue De Champagne.
Of cours, the first stop is at Moet&Chandon, one of the biggest producers of champagne, including the one and only, the Dom Perignon vintage champagne label. Lucky Claude Moet, who established his winery in the middle of the 18th century, had a lot of demand for it’s sparkling wine in the noble circles, aristocracy and of course, at the royal court. This is how champagne became similar to royalty. In our days, Moet&Chandon can brag about the fact that they are the suppliers of Queen Elizabeth II. Yeah, the business is going well. Nothing much, just being part of the largest luxury company in the world (LVMH), with only 1.6 billion euro revenue (numbers for 2011). And they sure know how to throw luxury in your face.
Prices start from around 35 euros for a normal Moet&Chandon and they can go up to …. more than 7000 euros for a vintage Dom Perignon.
But if you’re interested on a budget high quality champagne, I found an offer you can’t refuse 🙂 Riding on that Route de Champagne, we found an independent champagne house, called Jean Pierre Lalouelle. I had the chance to speak with the owners and they tried to explain me this champagne thing over an ice cold coupe.They have a wonderful fairy house all covered in ivy and they are more than glad to invite you to a tasting in their improvised bar. I really regret not taking more pictures, but i took advantage that my husband was driving so i didn’t want to be rude and refuse all those sorts of champagne… so I was too into the moment and I kind of forgot to take more pictures. But that’s ok, I wouldn’t want to ruin your surprise if you pay them a visit. You must call first as they are working on the vineyard or in the production area almost all the time! We were really lucky to find someone home (as they said). Prices for Lalouelle champagne go from 16 to 30 euros per bottle and you have a discount if you get a 6 pack 🙂
One of the most interesting things I have learned on this field trip is that the way bubbles go up can tell you if a champagne is high or low quality. The trick is to watch the bubbles if they go straight up… that means you’re having a good champagne. Spiraling bubbles are a bad sign so keep away from those. How to choose your champagne? Always look for the blanc de blancs, which is made by 100% Chardonnay. It costs a little bit more, but it’s worth. Trust me, after you have a glass of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, it’s hard to forget that force in your mouth, making your whole body and spirit feel like they are invaded by the stars in the sky! (be ready to pay around 60 euros for a bottle).
After all that tasting, you must be hungry, so I have a little place to recommend you just a few steps away from Avenue de Champagne: Le Bar Parisian. I ate the best Croque Monsieur of my life. We payed around 70 euros for four persons including drinks and tip and… champagne for me. This post is not about food so i’m not going to mix thing up. We’re keeping it sparkle so no photo food. (Ok, I admit it, I was too hungry and I forgot to take the pictures… yes, too much champagne, so always drink wise 🙂 ). If you want something quick for the road, you can hit Paul bread and pastry shop, or any other open pastry shop and you can have a decent meal under 10 euros. But I do insist going to Paul’s because right next to it you have a wonderful champagne shop which offers almost every kind of champagne you can think of.
Weather we’re talking about a wedding, an anniversary, or sometimes just the presence of the loved ones, champagne makes everything festive and turns any event into a special one! That’s the role of champagne! Make everyone’s heart sparkle and dance with the stars in the sky! Santé!
How to get to Epernay? By car and by car only because the magic is to follow the Route du Champagne
Don’t take the highway, you will miss all the beauty in French landscapes.
Moet&Chandon – 20, avenue de Champagne, 51333, Epernay
Jean Pierre Lalouelle – 50 Route de Vinay, 51530 Saint-Martin-d’Ablois, 03 26 59 92 20
Le Bar Parisien – 9 Rue Porte Lucas, 51200 Épernay ( always check schedules first because the second time we went there was a Monday, and they’re closed, that’s why we had to eat at Paul’s) .
Paul – 1 Rue Gambetta, 51200 Épernay
Example of using right a Moet&Chandon 🙂