[TravelBlog] Post Twenty-Four: Champagne

10:55PM  |  Pouilly-Sur-Loire  |  Loire Valley

We spend our day off with a bit of sightseeing, and some catching up on email. A short trip north to the Reims Cathedral is well worth the drive. The massive gothic masterpiece, built in stages over thousands of years and carefully restored (with, of all things, Rockefeller funding) post WWI, is magnificent; as the French say, impressionant. The stained glass not destroyed during the world wars has been replaced by 20th century artists including Marc Chagal, but the old stuff impresses the most.

This morning (Monday) we taste at two Champagne houses working in the Vallée de la Marne, one in downtown Épernay (now 5th generation), and one just outside. Both make fine, pretty wines in quantities to make Burgundy look like drops in a bucket. After lunch, we drive north into the Montagne de Reims region of Champagne, for a third tasting. This producer, more a philosopher-vigneron, opines at length on the types of berries and small hints of other fruit found in his cuvées. His thoughts are fascinating and his palate incredibly precise.

In the late afternoon we drive west from Reims towards Paris, through rolling fields marked with foreign cemeteries. The flags of England and Italy dot the countryside, a reminder of the terrible events that took place a century ago in this now peaceful landscape.

We reach the Loire Valley by dusk, and drive to Sancerre for an excellent meal with foie gras and a dish of beautifully sauced fish and lobster claws. Between courses we browse a 1952 Michelin Guide, which suggests we ask about the 1929 vintage in Burgundy — maybe next visit.