After such a lovely first day in Reims, we were very excited for the rest of the weekend. We decided to discover more Champagne houses and go to different extremes from the little family run Champagne house which only produces 10,000 bottles per year to the massive producer and exporter of Champagne like Pommery. It’s very interesting seeing them both and tasting their delicious bubbly produce.
The owner of the flat we rented recommended Bernard Dumont Champagne. We gave them a call the day before and they were very friendly, welcoming and simply lovely. We made a move at around 10am and drove to Chigny-les-Roses, just a few miles south of Reims. I must admit that having a car made it a lot easier for us to discover the region. The drive was superb, with lots and lots of vineyards surrounding the road leading to the next village. We came across the vineyards of some big Champagne houses on the way, like Moët & Chandon.
Regis, Bernard Dumont’s son, and his wife Corinne, welcomed us as soon as we arrived their home. They showed us their cave, explained to us the process of making the Champagne and what grapes are mostly used (pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay) and made us taste three types of the Champagne they produce.
Their kindness and generosity were unlike what we had experienced anywhere in France. Their Champagne also tasted really nice, which was another reason to buy a few bottles from them. Since they are a small family run business and only produce enough bottles to sell to local customers, the prices of their Champagne were a lot more reasonable than what you would pay in a supermarket in France or elsewhere. The average bottle is sold for £25 here whereas the average price at small Champagne houses is £13. It tasted delicious so the price markup did not make sense to me but people pay for the brand more than the actual drink when they buy Champagne so the price can be justified in some cases.
After a wonderful morning sipping delicious Champagne, we made our way back to Reims because we planned to visit the Pommery Champagne house which is near the centre of Reims. The grounds and building are stunning and look just like a fairy tale castle. We went from one extreme to another indeed.
The interior has been designed for all the visitors they receive every day so it is quite modern and a bit commercial. We booked a tour of the caves, which wasn’t very long but it gave us a very small glimpse of the enormous size of the actual underground cellar. We obviously ended the tour with a crisp glass of Pommery, which tasted delicious but honestly, not remarkably better than the Dumont one we hard earlier in the day. It was very interesting to see how different Champagne houses function and how commercial brands also give commercial (not personal) tours of their places.
By then, we were ready for the second destination of our weekend in Reims: Le Chateau de Courcelles. It deserves a post on its own because we enjoyed a gastronomic seven-course dinner in their Michelin-star restaurant so you can imagine the number of pictures I have to show, without counting their beautiful grounds so stay tuned for a post all about delicious French cuisine in a stunning chateau!