If you love champagne, France is the destination of choice for a tasting experience. The top champagne estates are found in the French province of Champagne-Ardenne and each comes with its own unique history and appeal.
When asked to name a producer of champagne, most people will utter the name Moet & Chandon, the world-renowned manufacturers of Dom Perignon, which was first produced in 1920. Visitors to the production area are invited to enter the champagne cellars under the vineyard itself. These cellars are the largest in the district, spanning around 28km; that’s 17.4 miles worth of bottled bubbly. The champagne is allowed to mature in this unique setting, where the temperature and humidity are unbroken. Tours of the estate followed by tasting sessions are open throughout the season.
For real wine enthusiasts, the Veuve Clicquot is certainly worth visiting as it’s one of the most highly regarded estates in the area. Established in 1772, Veuve Clicquot originally produced wool as well as wine, but is now generally regarded as the birthplace of modern champagne thanks to their 1811 vintage. There are a number of different tour packages to choose from, each offering a different tasting experience at the end. If needed, visitors can also come up with a package of their choice to suit their needs. Tours are booked by advanced appointment only with limited numbers for each, so do call beforehand to make sure you don’t miss out.
Fans of Cristal will be pleased to know that the Louis Roederer vineyard is also open to the public. While the illustrious history of this wine isn’t quite as extensive as Moet & Chandon or Veuve Clicquot, having first been made publicly available in just 1945, Cristal grew hugely in popularity with American hip-hop artists in the late 1990s and early 2000s, which in turn increased prestige with the general public. The vineyard has however, been open since 1776 when it was opened as an independent family business and continues to be so to this day. Producing around 3.5 million bottles of champagne a year, Roederer accounts for just 1% of the region’s overall production. Visitors are treated to a glimpse at the 17 million bottles of slowly maturing champagne kept in the cellars and visit to the reserve wine cellar, where several large, intricately carved wooden barrels sit, filled with wine in its initial stages.
There are many more champagne producers to visit within the same region of France, each with its own special mode of production. It’s well worth checking out a few places if you’re hoping to gain full-circle knowledge of production – but if you can’t wait for a taste of that bubbly magic already, you can take advantage of the champagne offers available at Tesco.