Dover UK 2009 BellaOnline Gathering
Thursday - Boulard, Mercier, Moet et Chandon

Thursday morning I woke up with the alarm and was down for breakfast right at 8:30. Peter and Joan had just arrived. Again I had rolls of ham, cheese, and some dry cereal with my orange juice. Joan found that the "cream" by the coffee was really "milk with full cream" which in American means whole milk. I'll know that for tomorrow! In short order we were climbing into the car and heading out.

The first stop was a small organic winery - Boulard - that Peter knew well, located just north of Reims. We had a 10am appointment and got there about 20 minutes early. The winery owner came out to greet us asked if we wanted to go see the vineyards. Yes, indeed! So far we'd seen a number of wineries but hadn't seen any vines at all - the wineries in Reims are all in the center of a city. They truck the grapes in. So we climbed into his car and drove off. We drove through a small town with curvy lanes, and then we were up on the slopes behind the town.

He explained that he had multiple small lots of land in different places. He might own 10 rows here, 7 rows at the bottom of the hill and so on. Most of Champagne was like this with people owning tiny lots. So while he grows organic, his next door neighbor uses chemicals. The chemicals waft over onto his vines. If he gets mildew, it wafts over on his neighbor's vines. He did not speak English well and apologized that he had all sorts of interesting information he wanted to tell us but he couldn't find the words. They don't have any problems with birds or deer there - apparently the deer come around in the spring but go into the forest for the summer.

We went back to the winery and walked through the barrel room - he ages in oak barrels - and then went in to taste a number of them. We ordered a few, then it was time to move on.

We headed down towards Epernay which is one of the other large cities in the Champagne area. We stopped along the way at a restaurant and I had a nice buffet of salad type things, along with some deli meat. Very tasty. Then we were off again. We got down to the main Champagne Avenue which has large mansions for Pol Roget and many other wineries. We went down to Mercier - a huge Champagne house which has such gigantic underground chalk tunnel complexes that they have a tram you ride around on to explore them. Millions of bottles. We enjoyed our tram ride, and we had a 3-tasting ticket at the end. They don't mean tiny tastes here, they poured full glasses. Three were just too many to taste, and it took them a long while to get to us, so we finally just sipped the last one and headed out to try to get to Moet et Chandon.

Luckily their mansion was right down the road, and when we got there we had to wait a half hour for their next tour. They were very elegant, and soon enough we were in watching their movie and then heading down into their tunnels. Again they had a huge network of tunnels underground that we walked through, and then the tasting room was down there as well.

We were done for the day. We drove our way back through numerous vineyard roards, and finally arrived back at Reims. We rested for a short while, then headed out to dinner. The sky was looking cloudy so we brought our rain jackets and my umbrella. We were some of the only people out at the outdoor tables tonight, with the clouds in the sky. I had steak with bearnaise sauce which was tasty. For dessert I tried to have fruit with hot chocolate sauce but it was only lukewarm. Also I ordered a port and it came out with a bunch of ice cubes in it. Very bizarre! Finally when I went to pay they said they couldn't use credit cards. None of us had euros so I had to run down the street to a bank machine. It was the first time on the whole trip I'd had to get euros!

Then the skies opened up to pouring rain so we raced back to the hotel. Time to get some sleep!

Note: My camera died midway through the Moet tour so I have more photos and videos to load up that are not here yet. I've been audio recording every winery tour.

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Dover UK / Champagne FR Trip


Lisa's 2009 Travelogues Main Page
Lisa's Travelogues Main Page