Which of us does not know from what word the name of the so-called Champagne drink was so beloved by all. Of course, from the name of the province where this amazing drink is made – Champagne. This region is located east of Paris. You will see medieval churches, timeless castles, villages on the banks of calm rivers, fortresses in the Ardennes and endless vineyards, stretching as far as the horizon, between Reims and Epernay.
If you decide to visit Champagne, then 80 km. from Paris you should drive through the city of La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, where the 7th-century Benedictine abbey is located. Not far from this abbey is Château-Thierry, and another 50 km is Reims, famous as the baptismal site of the King of Francs Clovis, and then for six centuries all French kings were crowned in his Gothic cathedral Notre Dame – starting from the son of Charlemagne and including Charles VII, who received his crown here in the presence of Joan of Arc in 1429.
In France, royal authority has long ceased to exist, but Reims Cathedral remained a reminder of its former greatness. Cathedral in Troyes In July and August, night shows are held with special musical and light accompaniment, which make you mentally return to this period of French history. After visiting the cathedral, you can head to the Palais du Tau, the former residence of the archbishops, where there is an exhibition of artifacts from the collection of the Reims Cathedral, as well as royal robes that were sewn specifically for the coronation ceremony.
At the edge of the city you will see the beautiful Basilica of St. Remy, which is one of the monuments protected by UNESCO. This basilica was built in 11-12 centuries over the tomb of St. Remy.
Most of the tourists who come to Champagne come here not so much to admire the monuments of antiquity as to try the famous champagne wines of such producers as Ruinart – this “house” of champagne was founded in 1729 and is one of the oldest in Champagne, it cellars have become a historical landmark. Pommery offers you a tasting of any of its wines, collected in a huge 20 millionth collection. And at Piper-Heidsieck, visitors will be offered a ride on an electric car along a path showing all the stages of champagne production – from a vineyard to a bottle.
Epernay, Reims’ eternal rival in champagne production, is 20 km away. from Reims. Here are the world-famous “houses” of champagne producers – Moett & Chandon, Paul Roger, Perrier-Jouët, Charbaut and Mercier. And true wine connoisseurs will definitely visit Hautvillers, where House Perignon – a Benedictine monk, whose name is given the priceless brand of the best French champagne – invented the recipe for the production of this drink. My e Chandon turned the former abbey into a museum where they will tell you the story of the night when House Perignon made this discovery of the century. Its unique discovery was just the idea of attaching corks to the neck with a wire, and he subsequently brought into circulation especially strong wine bottles. It was thanks to him and then to the improvement of the process of making champagne by the widow of Clicquot and Raymond Abbel that a real French unique wine appeared – champagne. It is famous not only for its taste, but also for its unshakable traditions in production, which determine the impossibility of faking it. All stages of wine production are regulated by centuries-old traditions, the observance of which is established strict control. The maximum allowable grape harvest in Champagne is 13 tons per hectare. This achieves a concentrated taste of berries and eliminates any attempt to increase production to the detriment of quality. Each year, a joint committee of farmers, producers and traders of wine assigns a special coefficient to each plantation area and sets firm purchase prices depending on it. To avoid damage to the bunches during transportation, the grapes are pressured near the place of collection using traditional presses designed for 400 kilograms of berries.
The quality of champagne depends on a number of factors, the most important of which are the variety and place of grape harvesting, the method of berry pressure, the skill of the winemaker and the storage conditions of the wine. The bottle label contains surprisingly little information about all of this. Historically, the practice of champagne producers is such that the name of the company, the name of the wine are a guarantee of quality and a description of taste for customers. Because there is no competition between the most famous manufacturers in this business, their wines are purely individual, not like one another, designed for their followers and customers. After traveling around Champagne, you will probably determine exactly the kind of champagne that will be close to your taste. Good luck in the tastings!