The grapes of wrath


The grapes of wrath
Épernay, France

Épernay, France

Having already established that the ‘bed’ referred to in our ‘bed and breakfast’ was something of an understatement, this morning we discovered that so too is the ‘breakfast’ part. We went across to the main house to find a veritable feast spread out with every food stuff you can imagine and a few you can’t, just for us! There was enough to feed a large army and it didn’t stop coming – baguettes, croissants (in a plug-in croissant warmer!), a massive cheese platter, yoghurt, 20 kinds of jam and honey, dates, walnuts, bee pollen (!), weird sausage, croquignoles (little meringue type biscuits), warmed madelines, coffee, juice and so on … even speculaas spread!!! We did the best we could but even so, the sumptuously set table looked untouched by the time we’d had our over-fill.

After stuffing us with so much food, Sylvie went on to ply us with just as much information and advice on the best way to spend our day – like breakfast, it turned out to be way too much for us to fit in but we similarly eager to gorge ourselves on the cornucopia of delights of the Champagne region.

To continue the analogy, I always find it best when presented with a vast array of options, to start with that which you have the most appetite for, in order to maximise your enjoyment. With that in mind, we made a bee-line (fuelled by actual pollen) for Moet &amp; Chandon – not only home to their own exquisite range of world-renowned champagnes but also the original and arguably most prestigious of champagnes, Dom Perignon.

Although similar to yesterday’s tour of Mumm in Reims, this really was a cut above embodying the luxury and sophistication of the brand from the gold panton chairs in the reception foyer to the crystal champagne glass chandelier to the dashing sommeliers who served us at the end – I just had bog standard Moet (poor, responsible driver that I am) but we coughed up the extra so Mum could try two vintage champagnes from 2002 – one brut, one rose – both unbelievably delicious! And did I mention, they have 28kms of caves (3km more than Mumm).

Ruined for life, we strolled the Avenue de Champagne which is lined with the magnificent headquarters of Champagnes biggest and best, consequently earning it the nickname Champagnes Champs Elysee.

We spent the rest of the day touring the Vallee de Le Marne – the area has three main champagne driving routes – we did one on the way into town, this is the second one that runs along either side of the Marne river. Each bend in the road revealed a view even more spectacular that the one before.

We took our time stopping at different points of interest along the way including a smaller champagne house for comparison; the final resting place of Dom Perignon himself; a tiny river side village for coffee; a giant statue of the Pope who started to Crusades and who now has the best view over the valley and finally at the areas most renowned Salon de The for the most incredible eclair and raspberry macaron ever (the hot chocolate wasn’t bad either but Les Deux Magots in Paris is still number one on that count)!

Aside from these scheduled stops, we pulled over countless times during the day when the views just got too beautiful to ignore. I also mentioned yesterday that the law actually requires that the grapes of the Champagne region are picked by hand so we did a bit of that too – it’s not stealing, it’s the law and we need to keep up our daily intake of fruit! It did make us giggle though to realise that many of the grapes we were ‘saving’ happened to be from vineyards with a Louis Roederer stone signifying the vineyard was specifically for their Champagnes.

As the sun set on the valley, we wound our way back to Epernay watching the light change the colour of the landscape and then fade altogether in our rearview mirror. We ended the day with a final glass of bubbly at an independent champagne bar owned and run by sommeliers who hand pick (it’s the law!!!) and showcase the wares of some of the smaller champagne houses to round out our experience.

One last lap up the Avenue de Champagne before calling it a night – and a sparkling one at that!

Mum’s Message:
Yummy breakfast! I’ve never seen such an array of breakfast food! Cheeses, jams, honeys, croissants, baguettes, fruit, sausages, yoghurt and something I have never seen before – pollen, supposedly very good for your skin (you sprinkle it on the croissants or on the jam or in the yoghurt). I haven’t noticed any changes yet!

Next a visit to Moet &amp; Chandon and Dom Perignon. Yummy champagne!

Drove around the beautiful, beautiful area of endless vineyards and vistas. Stopped at a few historical sites and finally ending the day at a champagne bar.

What made me smile today: The specially hand picked grapes from Louis Roederer’s vineyard, exclusively picked by Nomi-Jo. Love to all.



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