It’s day 3 in Paris. My luggage finally arrived at 1am. Yesterday, we went to the Louvre. I’ll tell you about that on another post but today we have to talk about our trip to Reims, pronounced urais not reems. All I know is that we went to the Champagne region. And yes, Today was a good day!
Reims, the Champagne region is about a two hour drive from Paris heading west. We left early this morning and our first stop was the town of Reims. A typical town with small streets, boutique shops and a Cathedral, the Notre Dame Cathedral of Reims. Built between 1211 – 1516 it’s, Gothic in appearance and was the site of the coronation of French kings. On almost every corner is a Champagne store selling a wide variety of Champagnes and most of my favorites with unique cases, paraphernalia and these wonderful pink cookies called biscuits roses de Reims. They are a great accompaniment with Champagne.
|Jean Paul Gobillard|
We only spend an hour in Reims before we continue to Chateau de Pierry for a tour, tasting and lunch. Chateau de Pierry is an 18th century mansion and the owner, Jean Paul Gobillard, is a 10th generation owner. Their Champagne, Paul Gobillard is a smooth Brut. They use three grapes for their wines and champagnes. Pinot Noir, Meunier and Chardonnay. Jean Paul Gobillard is a very charming man and excitedly greets us outside in the courtyard. He guides through the courtyard and to the front of the mansion and the garden. The front lawn is shaped like a butterfly and at the end is a small river that runs along. Unfortunately, it’s the beginning of Spring and because of the colder weather not much is in bloom. he then takes us into one of the cellars where the room is dark and damp like most cellars are. There we taste his Champagne and Tony
Richards, the on air personality on WHUR, is selected to open the Champagne with a saber. First, Jean Paul gives a demonstration, then it’s Tony’s turn. He appears to be a bit nervous but he attentively watches and steps up for his turn. With a 1..2…3 count he does it and in one swoop the cork pops and the Champagne pours. Violla, Tony has done it and the drinking begins. Tony is then presented with a certificate and can now use his new skill.
We head to the mansion for lunch in a well decorated room that’s line with photos royalty. We have a three course lunch that was delicious. Starting with Feuillantine Champenooise aux Pleurotes et Champignons du temps, Fouillis d’herbes. Puff Pastry with Oyster mushrooms of the Champagne region and a mess of herbs. The mushrooms are unctuous. Second course is Supreme de pintade en croute d’amandes au Champagne, polenta cremeuse. Supreme of guinea fowl in a pastry case of almonds in Champagne and creamy polenta. The finale is Tarte chocolate en feuillantine craquante. Chocolate brown tart in crunchy feullantine. Each course is paired with a wine and the desert is paired with their Rose Champagne.
|Janyce & Earline|
Two of our group members are celebrating a birthday so we serenade them with Happy Birthday and their dessert is presented first with candles. When one of them leaned forward to reach for something the fringes from her shawl caught a fire from the candle. Several people started hitting her shawl to put out the fire. Getting every one’s attention. Knowing she was OK it not hurt some of the group members from another table came to her and started singing “This Girl is on Fire”! It was hilarious!
The group started our quiet and by the second course and wine paring the vocal decibel’s were raised.
You would think this was enough but we head to Epernay, the Capitol of Champagne for more wine tasting, En route we drive down Champagne Avenue. Now that’s an address I’d like to have. Champagne Avenue is lined with Champagne houses. I’m so excited you would think I was passing by celebrity homes. To me and some of the others it really a celebrity experience. We passed by Perrier Jouet, Moet & Chandon, Dom Perignon, etc. We were all taking photos and calling them out as we passed by.
Our last stop was at Mercier, a large scale Champagne house founder by Eugene Mercier. He was the first to produce Champagne on a large scale and to do so without loosing the integrity of the Champagne.
The cellar tour starts with a short video, then to an elevator with a glass wall that takes you down thirty meters to the cellar itself. The cellar tour is by train and it is massive with dark tunnels and thousands of barrels. Here we do three tastings. Are we having fun yet. Every one’s demeanor has changed and some are getting really loose but in a fun way. I truly enjoy seeing the group let their hair down and having a good time.
We now hit the road for our journey back to Paris. On the bus we play Champagne trivia games to see who was paying attention during the presentations and after that it only takes 15 minutes before it gets quiet and the eyes start to close.
Tomorrow, we head to Bordeaux.
Ja’Vonne Harley, Co-Host, the Traveling eye