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Published: July 24th 2018
Up earlier this morning as we were being picked up by our driver at 9am for our full day Champagne tour. Our driver arrived very promptly - his name is Valentin. He had a very comfortable vehicle for the 5 of us so we settled in for our drive into the country. Tour starts at 9 - our driver Valantine picked us up in his very nice car. We headed towards the area that captures villages such as Verzy, Verzenay and Ludes.
Our first stop was at the Champagne house of Hughes Godme. This tour takes us to mostly boutique champagne houses - of which we found out there are around 200 of in this area. The lady we met is married is the owner with her husband and i think we caught her out not quite ready for 5 Ozzie girls at this time of the morning! She was lovely and walked us around the place, explaining what they do in her broken English. This champagne house is biodynamic so it was interesting to hear all about this process. As I said before, much of what they do is manual but it is even more so in these smaller
houses. We sampled some of her champangnes and bought 2 bottles.
From here we drove to our second spot Mailly Champagne house - but not before stopping to take photos over the Mumm property with its distinctive windmill. Mailly is a bit of a bigger house but we really loved it here. The girl serving us our tastings was so lovely. She had just finished uni and was considering her options for her career, which we enjoyed chatting to her about. The village this house is in only has 600 residents and she was born and still lives there. There wasn't a tour at this house and we were happy with this as we got to do tastings without it. This house only does Grand Cru Champagne - less than 9% of all planted vineyard land in Champagne is rated 100% Grand Cru. Very special.
After Mailly it was time to have some lunch. We drove to Ludes and went to this cute little cafe which has its menu on a blackboard and there are a couple of choice per course. You could choose either two or three courses - most of us chose two and then shared
a dessert. The food was lovely, very homemade. I had rabbit terrine to start followed by ham, chips and salad. Delicious and very filling. Could not finish it all. It is worth pointing out that even though I mentioned we drove to another town for lunch, they are really not very far apart from one another!
After lunch we headed to our third champagne house - Carnard-Duchéne. This is a much bigger Champagne house but it has so much history so the tour to the caves was very interesting and enlightening. Afterwards we had some tastings but I don't think any of us were that impressed so this is the first (and only Champagne house) where we didn't buy anything.
On to number 4 - Daniel Dumont. Back to a smaller boutique house where we got to meet one of the owners and Winemakers. We did a tour of the house and once again, it was interesting. Each one has been slightly different in some way so you don't find too much of an overlap of info. We enjoyed the Champagne here and bought a couple of bottles for later.
Our next, and last, Champagne house was
Vignon Père & Fils and we got to meet Stephanè Vignon (one of the sons - Fils means sons 🙂). This small Champagne house makes about 80,000 bottles a year and we got to visit the caves under the house. One thing we noticed on all these tours is they don't worry about OHS as much as we do in Australia. They were happy to show us around even though there were pipes and hoses lying around on the floor that we had to step over. We walked through puddles and down into caves without hi-viz on. All things we couldn't have done in Oz!
After our tour we sat down with Stephanè and Valentin and enjoyed his amazing champagnes. I do realise that we probably liked this the best because it was our last (and lots of champagne had been consumed by this stage) however we all agreed it was lovely. Stephané was lovely and made us feel like we were sitting in his lounge room enjoying the produce of his hard work. When it was finally time to leave - and I think this was after 6pm by this stage - we had a photo with him
in front of his house. What a wonderful way to end our tour. Of course we bought quite a few bottles from here - they are also Grand Cru.
We enjoyed our drive back to our apartment and said farewell to Valentin who had been such a great host. He was very cheeky at times, pretending to drop the box containing some of the bottles we had bought!
By the time we got home we decided to put some of the Champagne we had bought into the freezer and the rest into the fridge. Janine ordered in Uber eats (BBQ chicken, rice am doing chips) and I made a tossed mixed salad. We had a lovely meal together enjoying some of the Champagne from today's purchases.
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