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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Champagne Region, France: Celebratory Drinks

Synopsis: Fresh off my vacation from the states, and Staša recommends we go to the Champagne region. I cannot turn down a legitimate reason to celebrate, so why not learn about the most popular celebratory drink in the world? Cheers! Santé! Salut! Na zdravje!

Trip Overview:
Day 1: Jump in the car and head down friday after work. We get there in no time and walk around the town of Epernay. Interestingly enough, the town seems abandoned on this lovely friday evening. Makes it so much easier to take pictures.

Thoughts: It is so peaceful driving through the French countryside...when you aren't the one driving.




This is going on Instagram

Walking through the Saint Martin portal


Day 2: Walk to the park across from Moët and Chandon, hang out and wait until our tour there begins. Moët and Chandon is the first of our three wine house (company) tours. We get a bit of history and facts about champagne, then head down to the cellars. Far underground, we are taught the ins and outs of what makes champagne so special. At the end, we get to do a tasting. Later, we meet up with Petra (colleague of Staša) and her friend, Adriana, and head on a tour of a private vineyard and private cellar in Mancy. After celebratory drinks, head up to Hautvillers to check out the church where Dom Perignon is buried. Then, after saying goodbye to the other pair, we go to Reims and walk around Place Drouet d'Erlon until we stumble upon the Notre Dame Cathedral, where, in honor of Bastille Day the following day, they have an amazing light show on the front face of the church. Other festivites in the area include a live concert on the main strip and fireworks from the park nearby.

Thoughts: A long and full day. I didn't even realize it was the day before French National Day, so we got to enjoy things that we would not normally get to were it a normal day. Right place at the right time.


Relaxing in the park

The most celebrated man in the field of Champagne... and Dom Perignon


Celebrating the completion of the tour



On our way to the vineyards

Working in the vineyards. Boss is always micromanaging me!




In the private cellar learning how they make their champagne


[As I pour Champagne on the ground] "One for me and one for me homie, Dom"




Subé Fountain on the night strip


The creative and amusing light show on the church facade

Day 3: Still in Reims, where we go to Vranken Pommery. We meet Petra and Adriana there as well. The cellars here are more artistic and have paintings and sculptures to keep the wine happy and entertained. After celebratory drinks, head to Parc de Champagne and enjoy the weather. We decide to go back to the Notre Dame Cathedral, to see it in the day time. We say our goodbyes again, and then head back to Brussels.

Thoughts: I am now, officially, a champagne aficionado and fifth-degree wine connoiseur. I am now authorized to say things like "smooth finish", "oaky taste", "full bodied", and "no, I've only had 5, I'm still good".


A lot of champagne can fit in there



If this is what it looks like sober, imagine what the winos are thinking

And she is driving home!




ChampTagne™



Like the YMCA in France, but with different letters, and no music, and in no way like the YMCA
Last time at the cathedral





Final Thoughts: This was a last minute, spur of the moment trip, that wasn't expensive and yet exposed me to a familiar subject that I, and most people, know only the surface of. Who says learning can't be fun and spontaneous? I seem to only like the demi-sec champagnes, because sugar makes everything taste better. Great weather makes great trips even better.




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Location: Reims, France

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