9.21.2012

Pass the Bubbly: Girl's Trip to Champagne

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This may seem silly when spending a weekend in a wine region but one of the highlights for me was the sight of grapes!  I was just gushing over them.  So plump and juicy, a description that's going by looks alone.  No, I didn't have the guts to try one.  Am I kicking myself?  Not really, grapes have a lot of grody pesticides (yes, I am a little crazy when it comes to stuff like that).  

We have been to a few wine regions.... but never when there were actual grapes in the vineyards. 

See below:
 {Chianti in March}  
If I loved Chianti when it looked like this, I can't even imagine how I would feel about the region right before harvest.
 {Alsace in May}  
Green and Lush, but grapes the size of peas!  Really charming villages & great wines make Alsace a perfect weekend getaway from Brussels.
{Champagne in September}
Now that you understand how a few grapes can really get a girl going, we can continue.

We left Brussels at 7 am for the 3.5 hour drive to our first stop.  No easy feat on a Saturday morning.  We arrived a little early, so we took the liberty to wander around some vineyards near the Champagne house we were visiting. 
So like any girls waiting for their Champagne Tour and Tasting, we did a vineyard photo shoot.  Naturally.

Then we got busted.  We weren't sure how the French would feel about a group of tourist wandering through their vineyards, but apparently they don't mind.  They'll even pose for your picture!
Happy as a clam.  I would be too, if I woke up to this view everyday.
The views are great, but let's get to the good stuff.  The Bubbly.

We started at Lagache Champagne House, a medium sized house in the village of Pierry, just outside of Epernay, the capital of the Champagne region.
We began with a private tour given by the owner's daughter, Catherine.  Having done tours in wine regions before, it was interesting to hear about the different processes needed to make sparkling wine or Champagne (which is sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region).  The tour was very informative and just the right length.

Now, let's get to the fun part.  The tasting. 

I wasn't sure what to expect as I have never been to the region before and all wine regions seem to be a little different.  Seeing that this tasting and tour were free, my expectations weren't high.  However, we were pleasantly surprised.  In fact, this tasting ended up being most generous & fun tasting on the whole trip to the region (did I mention it was free! :) Booyah)!  I should also mention that similar to Alsace, the only way to show your appreciation for their service and product is to buy lots of Champagne.*

And the Champagne?  Well, it was amahzing!
 
We started out with the Cuvée Brut, which was light, crisp and overall very pleasant.  A Champagne you could drink daily at brunch, if one could be so lucky.  They say a Champagne a day keeps the doctor away.  Wait, what?  Oh, that's an apple you say?  Oh well, a girl needs to get her fruit servings in one way or another.

Next up was the Cuvee Blanc de Blancs Cru Réserve, which I think was my favorite of the four we tried.  This one, made with 100% Chardonnay, also light, but a bit more flavorful than the first, had hints of vanilla and a nice finish.  It was tough to choose a favorite, because each is so delicious in it's own right. 
 Third, was the rosé.  There is just something about pink Champagne that really gets me going.  Okay, a lot about this post seems to be getting me going.  What can I say?  I just loved everything about Champagne (the drink and the region)!
 Did you know the bubbles form from the imperfections in the glass?  I had no idea.  Anyway, back to the bubbly.  This pink Champagne would be the perfect beverage at a Bridal Shower or the morning before a wedding....or  better yet,  just for a girl's night in!  Good thing I bought a few bottles to bring back with me ;)
 Approved.
Last was the Cuvée Grand Cru, produced in smaller quantities than the first two, it takes certain qualifications for a Champagne to be classified a Grand Cru (and is based on the specific area of the region the grapes are grown).  The Grand Cru was a treat, with warm nutty tones, it was full bodied, but not overpowering.

One of the best parts about our tasting with Catherine, was that it was a very personal and intimate setting. We were able to ask questions, hear stories about the harvest, talk marketing strategies (yes, we shamefully admitted that it's all about the label for us) and have some girl talk of our own.  Catherine is really passionate about the Champagne and is going to follow in her father and uncle's footsteps and help run the Champagne house someday.  Sounds pretty amazing to me. 

*As mentioned above, the only way to show your appreciation is by buying the Champagne.  And buy we did.
Good thing we packed light! 
I think I'll put a bottle in the fridge tonight.  After all, we learned Champagne isn't only for celebrations.  Why do we need to have an excuse to drink such a wonderful beverage?
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2 comments:

Rebecca said...

I would not recommend drinking a full bottle by yourself. Full bottle of delishious champagne down by 9pm = sleeping by 10pm. :(

Erika Hintz said...

Agree, that probably isn't a good idea. ;) The bubbly goes straight to your head... best (but difficult) to limit yourself to a few glasses!