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France: Champagne, Disneyland for Wine-lovers

A trip down champagne lane, paying a visit to the Pommery winemakers, the place where the very first brut was born.

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It takes about one and a half hours by car and only 45 minutes by TGV to get from Paris to Champagne. It was in Champagne, about four centuries earlier, that a French monk called Dom Perignon created a sparkling wine, a revolution in wine-making. This kind of wine eventually became a status symbol, as well as one of the most enjoyable vineyard products.   

First Stop: Reims

As soon as one arrives in Reims, the largest town in France's Champagne region, you realize that its life here revolves around wine. Local maps offer information on the main winemakers in the region, and even the streets are named after great, historical champagne makers. 

Next Stop: Pommery Winemakers

Meadows and vineyards and interesting scents; a different atmosphere all together. The castle of Pommery, with its lively colours, looks like an over-sized toy, straight out of a fairy-tale. In the reception room visitors from all over the world wait for a guided tour, and the host proudly serves glasses of Cuvee Louise 1998; all enjoy it slowly, taking small sips. The guide explains that Jeanne Alexandrine Louise Pommery inherited her husband’s business in 1878, four years after making the first brut champagne, thus making history and changing the region’s destiny.

Down to the wine cellars

The wooden door opens to reveal 116 stone steps leading to the cellars, 30 meters below ground level. One cannot help but be amazed; each corridor is named after a city, symbolizing and honouring the distribution points of Madame Pommery’s champagne. 25 million bottles of this fine liquid stand here, waiting to be brought to light.

After half an hour, during which enthusiarm overpowered tiredness, the guide led us back up to ground level, in order to partake in some wine-tasting.

Leaving the Champagne region made us feel like children, deprived of their favourite toy; a true Disneyland for wine-lovers!

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