How we visited the Champagne Region of France
Our French wine excursion now moves to the Champagne region where we have rented a house just outside the small village of Le Breuil, about 25 miles from Epernay and on the western edge of the great Champagne Wine Route. Like our rental house in Obernai, we found this house on the Web. Its owner has christened the house “La Ravenne.” The photos on the website look great, but as we approach this house from the D23 Highway, we are stunned at its beauty against the hillside and vineyards. The house is much more than we’d expected, with breathtaking views from every window in the house. The La Ravenee house will present us with a grand time in Champagne!
Our first full day in Champagne is a Sunday and, like most cities in Europe, just about everything is closed. We are surprised how few people are out and about on a Sunday. We drive the small village roads in search of small Champagne producers, but everyone is closed up tight. Finally, as we get near to the house in Le Breuil, we drive along a few of the side streets and find a Champagne House called Roger Depit. The door to the cellar is open, but no one is around. Soon a Madame appears from an adjacent home, and we explain that we are interested in tasting and purchasing some champagne. Despite being exhausted from the previous day’s work, she lights up and welcomes us. She spends more than an hour with us showing us her cave and production facilities. There are thousands of these small producers throughout the small villages in the Champagne region. This is their life, livelihood, and passion. They toil year-round to make a go of their business. Roselyne and Roger Depit own this 1000-case winery and have been in production for 25 years. We purchase four different bottles of their Champagne priced between 12 and 15 Euros each. What a deal is knowing how pricey Champagne can be.
The vineyards of Champagne are all manicured and are small in height. The rows are planted very close to one another, perhaps only 3 to 4 feet apart. The winemakers want the vines to struggle for nutrients and grow deep to absorb the mineral elements of the earth. Three grape varieties are grown for Champagne: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier. Unfortunately for us, all the harvest was completed a week ago, and we have missed all the excitement and activities associated with the crush. The juice is now either fermenting or resting in stainless steel tanks. But for us, it is fascinating just to be visiting this beautiful and famous wine country.