Sep 23rd, 2011 | By | Category: Senior Travel

Seniors Drink Champagne in Champagne

We have all heard of Champagne, but seniors, how well do you know the region where this famous bubbly is produced?  I have had the good fortune to serve as a group leader on several Food & Wine tours in France programs for seniors and on one of my trips we journeyed to this area.  I had always thought that I did not like champagne, however,  I found out that there were several that I really did like.  I recall once visiting a wine shop and the sommelier told me, “Folks should be drinking champagne just like they have a merlot or a cabernet.  Champagne should not be just for special occasions.”  Well, he just may have a valid point there.

Well seniors, let’s be off to this region and check out what there is to see and do and drink here. Champagne holds many treasures: a rolling countryside, dotted medieval churches, timeless castles and villages along winding waterways.  Historic fortifications in the forested Ardennes, and vineyards as far as the eye can see dot the landscape between Reims and Épernay.

Épernay is best known as the principal entrepôt for champagne wines, which are bottled and kept in large cellars built into the chalk rock on which the town is built. The production of the equipment and raw materials used in the champagne industry is a major source of local employment. The current annual production in the region exceeds 300 million bottles.

Most visitors come to Reims because it’s the center of a wine growing district; its bubbly is present at celebrations all over the world. The city (pop. 200,000) is filled with swank restaurants, ritzy champagne houses, large squares, and long, tree-lined avenues. The champagne bottled here has the lightest and most subtle flavor in the world.

Make an effort to linger, and explore the vineyards and wine cellars, the Gothic monuments, and the battlefields. Do check out the famous cathedral where the kings of France were once crowned. It replaces an older church, destroyed by a fire in 1211, which was built on the site of the basilica where Clovis was baptized by Saint Remi, bishop of Reims, in AD 496.

Seniors, Champagne is Unique in the World

Champagne is an historic province in the northeast of France, now best known for the sparkling white wine that bears its name. Formerly ruled by the Counts of Champagne, its western edge is about 100 miles (160 km) east of Paris. The cities of Troyes, Reims, and Épernay are the commercial centers of the area. Most of the Champagne vineyards are between Reims and Epernay. Only Champagne produced in this region has the right to call itself Champagne.  Other versions are often called sparkling wines which contributes to why the true Champagne is so expensive. The terroir is the important factor for the vines and this part of France is known for the soil that the vines grow in, a type of chalky white soil unlike anywhere else in the world.

One of the most famous brands of champagne is called Dom Perignon.  Dom Pierre Pérignon (c. 1638–14 September 1715) was a Benedictine monk who made important contributions to the production and quality of Champagne wine in an era when the region’s wines were predominantly red. Popular myths frequently, but erroneously, credit him with the invention of sparkling Champagne, which didn’t become the dominant style of Champagne until mid-19th century. The famous champagne Dom Pérignon is the préstige cuvée of Moët & Chandon.

Important Champagne houses and small producers alike await the visitor to be able to share their passion: Mumm, Mercier, Moet & Chandon, Joseph Perrier, Perrier-Jouet, Taittinger, Veuve Cliquot, and more.  I have had the good fortune of having visited with groups in all of these houses. I loved every one of the visits and tastings. Do bring along a corkscrew as you just never know… jeb

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