Last month I was invited to spend the day touring the Champagne region with the absolutely charming Marc-Edouard. One of the things I love most about my work, apart from seeing some amazing places, is meeting people who are incredibly passionate about what they do, Marc-Edouard is one of those people. So, if you want to tour the region, know more about Champagne, and visit the best (not necessarily the biggest) Champagne houses, there is no-one better to spend your time with.
Apart from all the Champagne tasting, all in the name of research of course, it was also a very educational trip. I learnt about sexual confusion, Champagne eggs, and how to tell a vine from it's leaf..and yes, you did read the first one correctly. More on that ?
Well below, that brown plastic thingy, is what causes sexual confusion ... in insects! It is a diffuser of synthetic pheromones that perturb the sexual activity of the insects and cause disorientation. Basically, they are used to keep the insects away from the vines. Told you it was educational.
Furthering my education, I learnt that the vine leaves that, at the stem, have the shape of the nib of an ink pen, belong to the grape variety, Pinot Noir. The Meunier grape has the same form, but they have a white floury look to the leaves. The Chardonnay vine leaves by comparison, are more open.
A little fact you can use to impress your friends.
I am not going to detail all the Champagne houses that we visited because there are many, but, because I trust you to keep a secret, I shall share an excellent and little known one with you.
Henri Giraud, in Ay, is special for many reasons. Until the 1990s they only sold their Champage to private clients in France and Italy, and only those who were in the know. Their primary fermentation is in oak barrels which come from the Argonne Forest, and each barrel has a GPS co-ordinate that says exactly where it came from in the forest. Their production is limited to 250,000 bottles a year, so it is really quie special.
Now for the eggs that I mentioned earlier, Terracotta eggs are being used in the maturation process at Henri Giraud, a process which they began trialling in 2009, they now have more than 50 eggs. Quite a bold move for such a small producer don't you think?
So, there is a very short taste of our tour of Champagne.
Visits can be arranged to some of the larger and more well known Champagne houses, but even if you have your favourites, do visit some of the lesser known ones, you might be pleasantly surprised, and you will have something else to impress your friends with.
For more details, or to plan your trip, get in touch and let's create a trip to remember.