SUI GENERIS punk rock bike shop home-brew art/craft love

Epernay, Champagne -- Moet & Chandon

Harvest time in Champagne: the air was cool, the leaves were changing, the grapes were ripe. It was the perfect time to visit. The platform at Gare L'Est was cold, and I bought hot chocolate and a croissant for breakfast. On the train to Champagne, J napped and I enjoyed the scenery. We disembarked in the town of Epernay and walked straight to the nearest Champagne house, Moet & Chandon.

Compared to the ancient and old-fashioned Burgundy wineries, M & C was a super fancy-pants facility. Together with a bunch of old people and a couple of young snobs, we watched a short video, toured the huge cellars, and ended in a swank tasting room where we each got a glass of tasty Champagne. I got a couple of bonus glasses from the remainders. Score!!

Afterwards, we took a van tour of a family-owned winery (Domi-Moreau) and their vines. This was my favorite part of the vacation. Nathalie, who runs the company with her husband and his parents, was our guide and taught us a lot about Champagne. At the end of the tour, we headed up to their little tasting room for the best part. J told everyone it was our anniversary, so I had to open a bottle in front of everybody. Luckily, I have some experience in that area, so I didn't bruise the bubbles or hit anyone with the cork. The wine was really good and I bought three bottles to take home. Now we have something to drink for our next anniversary!

Highlights of the Domi-Moreau tour:

  • Cost of wine land: 1 million Euros per hectare
  • Nathalie owns six hectares, three of which produce grapes that are sold to the major players like Moet & Chandon. Many growers simply sell all their grapes instead of making their own wine, because the demand is so great. Nathalie said, "we produce gold."
  • The land is spread out--their six hectares were mixed in with other people's property. Right next to some anonymous tiny vineyard would be another one owned by Moet & Chandon or Mercier.
  • Gypsies are hired to harvest the grapes. "Why do we hire gypsies?" asked Nathalie. "Not because we like them. It's because they bring their house with them."
  • Co-ops provide wine-making equipment for small growers who can't afford their own. They can even do the entire process themselves, taking your grapes and handing you back bottles of finished Champagne.
  • We tasted some grapes: they had thick, chewy skins and lots of seeds and just a tiny bit of delicious juice.
  • Their bottle-capping machine was broken, so Nathalie showed us the one they were borrowing: it was 100 years old and still functional.
  • Champagne is good!

Categories: wine

1 comment:

Dr. Vino said...

Congratulations on your anniversary! Sounds like a great way to spend it.