Before moving to Europe, I thought that white wine was from France and red wine was from Italy. I didn’t really know there were other varieties of fizz besides champagne and how the heck did they get those bubbles in there, anyway? Three years later, we’ve now seen and experienced wine from various regions: Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, France…and though I’m no expert, I think I’d really impress the me from three years ago with my growing knowledge of the fancy juice. And one thing I’m certain of, every piece of wine country that I’ve seen in Europe so far is breathtaking.
This is Reims, France. The Champagne region is obviously known for its bubbles. It’s where the first Champagne fizzed.
You can see pictures from our day in city of Reims in this post. The vineyards spread across the lush hills dotted with super Frenchy villages.
I honestly can’t think of any other way to describe these little towns. They are just really Frenchy and packed with Champagne makers. One little town called Bouzy (and the next town on the road was Dizy, no joke) had 30 producers of Champagne alone.
Hautvillers is an adorable little village up on a hill where Dom Pérignon first stumbled onto the bubbly treat. You might know it as a champagne you can buy a Costco produced by the prestigious Moët & Chandon Champagne house (whose vineyards we saw) but he was actually a real person and the first to fiddle with double fermentation back in 1700.
We stopped for our first tasting at Champagne G. Tribaut on the edge of town. Valerie clearly loves her job and the family’s product.
She welcomed us into her home and couldn’t bring herself to charge us the 2€/glass tasting fee. She has a fantastic lineup of champagnes and we lingered over our coupette of bubbly around the garden surveying the sea of vineyards.
The wood-accented abbey is old, quaint, light and airy, and simple.
On the day Dom Pérignon discovered champagne, he ran into the abbey shouting, “Brothers, come quickly…I’m drinking stars!” I love that description. His tomb is at the foot of the altar.
On our way back to Reims, this scene just made my day.
We had a reservation to tour the Martel Champagne house and cellars but we got there a little early. We parked the car and wandered around the neighborhood and had lunch in the sunny park next to a gorgeous church.
Martel is a small operation (which we preferred to the big-business, industrial, and widely exported Champagne houses such as Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin, Taittinger, etc.) and the tour of the less extensive caves had a very homey feel. Which is exactly what we needed with Owen.
Emmanuel ran the tour with a relaxed manner as if we were just having a conversation. The tour group was small – it was us, two other couples and a woman, so we were able to get all our questions answered, too. We saw a short video clip down in the caves of the champagne making process. I wish I could share that video here, it was packed with really cool information.