Champagne is the province in the northeast part of France, about 160 km east of Paris and best known for the sparkling white wine. Epernay and Reims are the towns in the region where many of the Champagne houses reside. It is said that there are over 100 kilometers of wine cellars beneath the streets and they contain over 200 million bottles of the bubbly. It is highly recommended that you not only do a tasting, but you get a tour of the cellars if one is offered.
When I visited with my friend Judy, we made reservations at Veuve-Clicquot Ponsardin and even though they couldn’t find our reservation, they were able to squeeze us into a tour. This champagne house has been producing wine since 1772 by Phillippe Clicquot and in 1805 his widow, at the age of 27 took over.
The caves were particularly interesting as they date back hundreds of year. The tasting was at the end of the tour and the gift shop was quite fun. This company, now owned by LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennesy) knows how to do marketing and best-selling author, Mierelle Giliano who wrote, “French Women Don’t Get Fat” was President and CEO of Cliquot.
We also took a tour (and tasted champagne) at Moet & Chandon and Piper-Heidsieck, which, at the time had an electric train which took you through the caves. I do not believe they have this anymore and to be honest it was a bit hokey.
The French rail system, SNCF, now has a TGV train from Paris that will get you to nearby Reims in 1 hour.