Champagne – just speaking this word out, I feel the tangy and refreshing taste of this sparkling wine on the tongue and this time I would feel the true taste of Champagne , because we are for a few days in the Champagne region in northeast France and only the sparkling wine from this region is entitled to be called like this.
Champagne is produced exclusively in a precisely delimited wine-growing area of approximately 32,000 hectares. A number of international treaties limited the use of the term Champagne only to sparkling wines produced in that region.
Dom Perignon, a Monk from this region, was the one who at the end of the 19th century developed the Champenoise method, namely a method of re-fermenting wine into glass. He noted that the wine made from the mixture of several varieties of grapes gives the beverage a special quality, the most used varieties being: chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. He also closed the bottle with a stopper that was tightly attached to the neck of the bottle and used thick wall bottles to prevent breakage. A caving cave in the immediate vicinity of the monastery served as a wine cellar. It is said that because of Dom Perignon the champagne bottles are 0.7 liters because it was the average he drank at his dinner.
The road runs through vineyards over the hills, through small villages with narrow streets typical in France until you reach Reims, the center of this region. Here in Reims, a city with about 180,000 inhabitants, we wanted to take a longer break and visit some of the well-known champagne properties to find the secrets of production and taste as many varieties as possible.
We arrived at the city for lunch and after we stayed at the Novotel Hotel located near the train station not far from downtown we started our way to the tourist information office directly next to the city’s cathedral. Oh, yes, the cathedral of Reims is one of the most imposing, being also known by the fact that many of the kings of France were crowned here. The symbol of the cathedral is the angel who smiles.
The number of statues that adorn the cathedral is the highest compared to all the other European cathedrals, namely 2303 statues and almost all angels sculptured on the facade are smiling… how could it be otherwise in the champagne area.
It is said that the first time Dom Perignon tasted the first glass of champagne exclaimed “Come fast, I drank stars!”
At the beginning of the 18th century this “special” wine had been warmly recommended as being very healthy.
“Of all the wines, the best for health is the wine from champagne – carbon dioxide that comes exclusively from fermentation and is not artificial, such as carbonated beverages will not irritate the stomach with a very low pH and on top it helps dissolve fat and avoid bloating. It is rich in minerals, especially potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulfur, and thus has purifying, detoxifying and anti-inflammatory properties. It is recommended against rheumatism, colds and allergies. It also contains trace elements, including zinc, useful in regulating nerve impulses and by using anxiolytics, champagne is recognized as an antidepressant and anxiolytic. It also contains phosphorus and lithium, which are important for mood (The information is translated from the Champagne wine treaty from 1718).
After reading so much about this drink, I can hardly wait to serve myself from this health elixir.
The prices for such a visit differ depending on how many champagne varieties you want to degustate between 12.00 and 30.00 EUR / person. It’s harder to choose the property because there are more than 20 champagne makers in Reims (Among the most famous are Pommery, Piper-Heidsiec, Taittinger, Mumm and Moet & Chandon )
Later we decided to visit Casa Pommery. Casa Pommery is actually a small palace with a golden gate and a huge flower-filled garden.
An English speaking guide awaits us and guides us with other visitors (most Americans) to get to the cellar. Daytime temperatures had risen to about 25 ° C and so I was dressed in only a shirt without thinking of taking a jacket with me – because there were only 8-10 Celsius degrees in the cellars of the house and the torture through this labyrinth had to last for more than an hour.
Small and low camberas with sometimes hard molded walls and thousands of dusty bottles placed one above the other or in specially built grids that keep the bottles upside down. The manual rotation method is no longer used (a worker would return to 40,000 bottles per day!) Now everything is done automatically. Our guide is very friendly and tells many details about the history and quality of a champagne – the quality criterion is the visual aspect of the bubbles: in the best champagne, the bubbles are very small (16-40 microns) and rise uninterruptedly in columns at the bottom of the bottle.
And after spending an hour in cold and dark, going back to the surface I enjoy the warm sun and the two champagne glasses that I hope to live up to their promise. HEALTHY!
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