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France!

France!

Tasting at Louis Roederer including 02 and 06 Cristal with Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon

Tasting at Louis Roederer including 02 and 06 Cristal with Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon

After an incredible tour of France(and Iceland), I’m back in the States. Over the coming days, I will be writing up my experiences with the winemakers I met with as well as other great experiences. I’ll kick things off with a few fun facts about the trip:

We drove over 1500 miles in 14 days

We visited 4 wine regions and met with 19 winemakers

We tasted over 150 wines

The oldest wine tasted was from 1966

We completed a high ropes course

We had a picnic at the top of Hermitage

We paid homage to Paul Bocuse at his namesake restaurant – 2 words, Truffle Soup

Overall it was an amazing experience and I’m looking forward to sharing lots of stories in the future!

Enjoying a picnic on top of Hermitage with a bottle of Hermitage

Enjoying a picnic on top of Hermitage with a bottle of Hermitage

Sunday in Champagne

Sundays in Champagne are pretty boring, so I ended up driving around and looking at many of the villages and vineyards I wasn't specifically visiting.  Its obvious why many of the grand crus and important 1ers are classified more highly than their neighbors.  

Just some observations:

Hautvillers gentile slopes, mostly south and SE exposure.  The abbey was impressive as well. 

Verzy and Verzenay where very steep and hilly with east facing vines. There's also a facinating park in Verzy with a high ropes corse and a champagne bar, odd...

Ambonnay and Bouzy have a gorgeous SE facing slope that's quite gentle.

Trepail, a 1er next to Ambonnay is clearly inferior to it's neighbor, with less elevation and shallow slopes and more south and north facing vines. 

Tours-sur-Marne, maybe I missed something or didn't see the right area, but for the life of me I couldn't figure out why this was grand cru.  For that matter there weren't even many vineyards,  

Oiry - same deal as Tours sur Marne

Chouilly had one impressive hill with all the right stuff and then a bunch of valley floor, who cares vineyards.  

Cuis is to Cramant, as Trepail is to Ambonnay. Cramant is a steep amphitheater that is quite impressive and obvious as to why it's grand cru.  

Both the cotes de blanc and the montagne de Reims, at the southern end, look very much like the cote d'or in burgundy.  

The Vallėe de la Marne is less uniform, with steeper slopes and a variety of directions in which the vines face.   After seeing all these areas I'm hoping and looking forward to more growers taking an interest in showing off their terroirs. 

Reims vs Epernay

After the long days of tasting and driving, I went to Reims to find my hotel and see what the big city of Champagne had to offer.  Unfortunately it was Monday so all of the cool shops, restaurants, and everything  I wanted to see were closed leaving me in a bit of a lurch. I eventually found a place to eat that wasn't too touristy but still rather expensive. After dinner I walked around, saw the cathedral, which is quite impressive and then went to the hotel.  

A lot of people were surprised that I was staying Epernay for most of the trip rather than Reims. Reims is the bigger city and the capital of the region.  That being said, it wasn't big enough to really be cool, but it was big enough to be hectic and more expensive. Bad combination.  Epernay on the other hand  is closer to most of the vineyards , villages, and wineries, saving about 30-40 minutes of drive time to most areas.  Epernay is also was a lot cheaper, and I didn't get stuck with big parking costs, etc.  The restaurants in Epernay were  fine, if not very good in the case of Cook In a delight french/Thai joint. Epernay was also much easier to get around.  If you're heading to Champagne to visit small producers I recommend staying in Epernay over Reims.  That being said if you just want to visit the region, see a couple grande Marques and skip renting s car, Reims is probably the better choice.