“Come quick, I am drinking the stars!” – with these words, the monk Dom Pérignon is said to have announced his invention of Champagne in the late 17th century. And he certainly wouldn’t be the first to be driven to poetic paroxysms by the scintillating wines of the Champagne region.
Alas, like so many great stories, this is probably something of a myth. The romantic quote was actually first used in an advertising campaign in the 1880s. And there’s strong evidence to suggest that sparkling wine was first produced intentionally around 1662 by Christopher Merret, a scientist from Gloucester. So perhaps it’s closer to West Country scrumpy than we might think.
But still, Champagne is one of our favourite wine tour destinations. And not just for its fizzy delights. As well as the vineyards and châteaux along the scenic Route du Champagne, it’s also home to stunning sights, rich and rustic culinary specialities and relaxing river and canal cruises.
Popular places to visit
Of course, on a SmoothRed wine tour of Champagne you’ll have plenty of chances to taste the region’s favourite export. But beyond the châteaux you’ll also want to visit some of its most popular attractions too.
Like the 13th century cathedral in the heart of romantic Reims. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the greatest gothic cathedrals in all of northern France. And, if you’re that way inclined, you might like to try counting all its 2,303 statues. Although you will end up with a sore neck.
Further south, in the heart of Champagne country, the small town of Epernay is home to many of the most famous producers of fizz. From Moët & Chandon to Perrier-Jouët, it’s a delightful place to spend an easy afternoon wandering on foot between Champagne houses and cellars.
Then head a few miles southeast to the scenic Lac du Der, the largest reservoir in Europe and a great place to relax or indulge in a spot of birdwatching. Or maybe visit the historic old town of Troyes to marvel at its gorgeous half-timbered houses.
And let’s not forget Hautvilliers, the lively vignerons village famous for its abbey where Dom Pérignon plied his trade as cellar-master. Not to mention other famous Champagne villages like Rilly-la-Montagne and Verzy.
Wine and cuisine in Champagne
The Champagne region’s terroir is unique. Its Northern location, rugged climate, chalky soil and rolling countryside make it the ideal place to grow the Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes that are predominantly used to make Champagne.
The grapes of Champagne
The first, Pinot Noir, is most widely planted in the Aube region, while the second, Pinot Meunier takes up much of the Vallée de la Marne. The Côte des Blancs is dedicated almost exclusively to Chardonnay.
And, of course, they take their regional boundaries seriously in Champagne. Since 1942 the region has been overseen by the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), which rates vintages based on the quality of their grapes and vineyards. Nice work if you can get it.
Now, some would say you shouldn’t really eat while drinking Champagne, but we think those people can fizz off. From refined dining like oysters and snails in Champagne sauce, to the region’s rustic pleasures of venison, boar, rabbit and pheasant, you can be sure to dine every bit as well and you drink.
We can arrange your perfect Champagne wine tour
We have a range of Champagne wine tours and self-drive tours available. And we can always tailor trips exactly to your tastes.
Call us on 020 8877 4940 or email email@example.com and we’ll be more than happy to help.