Today was a fairytale day filled with multiple glasses of exquisite Champagne. Our bus departed Paris at 7am and we arrive in Epernay for a visit and tasting at the CIVC. It was extremely informative, and we learned of the huge trademark protection issues the Champagne brand battles around the world. This concluded with a delicious glass of 2004 Moet & Chandon.
Next we walked down the street for the mandatory photo with Dom Perignon’s statue before driving to Ay. This small village is world-renown for it’s Grand Cru status and perfumed pinot noir.
We were honored to meet with the owner and son Louis of Domaine Gatinois, where they focus on crafting fruity but highly structured Champagnes from the pinot noir grape. We were fascinated to learn that Louis, who appeared to be in his late twenties, is the 12th generation of the family to work at the Domaine. We relaxed in their beautifully appointed tasting salon complete with sofas, fireplace, and a grand piano while tasting the NV Reserve Brut and NV Reserve Rose. Both were exquisite and matched the house style perfectly – fruity yet structured.
Back on the bus, we made a short stop to walk in the vineyards outside of Ay. Everyone marveled at the low guyot trellis systems and high-density plantings of around 9,000 vines per hectare. We noticed the small pieces of white chalky rocks mixed in the soil, and realized it was the famous chalky soil of Champagne.
Arriving in Reims we had a couple of hour to have lunch in the many cafes, as well as to visit the famous gothic Reims Cathedral. It was cool and dark inside, except for the magnificent stained glass windows. Everyone was quite impressed with the unique Chagall windows, which glowed with Impressionistic splendor in the dim light of the arched ceilings.