Cruising on the River Marne, Champagne

It was such a beautiful day today in October here in Champagne, that some friends, Paul and Debra and I decided to go take a boat out on the River Marne.

We drove to the municipal campsite in Epernay and met with the lovely Christine who speaks excellent English, and hired an electric boat for about an hour.  You can take a picnic and your bottle of champagne along too, or have a special lunch prepared for you on the terrace before or after your trip.  Christine also does special childrens’ lunches and activities during the summer months.

Today she opened up her boatyard just for us!  We were the only ones on the river and it was so peaceful.  This is just one of the many activities we can organise for you here at Les Molyneux.

Categories: B&B

Harvesting the grapes in Champagne

It’s only the beginning of September and the harvest is all but over.  I was lucky enough to spend a day with Nicolas Rainon and his wife Marie-Noelle, picking their grapes, and sampling their champagnes.  The harvest traditionally takes place around the middle of September, but the weather in April and May was so warm, that the grapes advanced at record speed, and were ready to be picked in August!

Now everyone’s wondering what to do in September!  The children have gone back to school, so we can’t take a holiday, so everything feels a little upside down.  Nature is a fickle creature.

     

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: B&B

B&B moments in Champagne

What do you do when you’re driving up a narrow street and someone has left their car parked so you can’t get past?  Do you honk your horn and wait patiently, and still no-one comes?  Or do you get in the car, seeing that the keys are in it, and move it so you can pass?  That’s exactly what Nicolas Rainon did this week, when I was invited to experience an “Oenovasion Vendanges” – a Harvesting Discovery Day!  That was just the beginning of an eventful and amazing day.

We climbed into his Landrover Discovery at 10AM and then found ourselves driving along the disused railway line called the CBR which used to connect all of the villages along the Montagne de Reims until it was finally taken up in the 60s.  Then he stopped while we admired the view, and then he advanced literally over the cliff!  I must confess I didn’t look!  And then we were in the vineyards literally, driving along grass tracks while he was explaining how to tell the difference between the different vines, and how in fact 50million years ago, the chalky terrain now known as Champagne was created. Nicolas is a mine of information about this region.

Next we climbed 102 steps up the lighthouse in Verzenay while he explained just how small each parcel of vines can be and why each grape farmer must spread his parcels far apart to avoid localised adverse weather conditions and complete destruction of his livelihood.  It was all truly fascinating.

After a hard morning’s study, we then pitched up at his wife, Marie-Noelle’s champagne house where we were treated to a harvester’s lunch and 4 matching champagnes.  Marie Noelle is passionate about the skill of matching champagne and food and is in fact, teaching this skill to their 6 year old daughter, Marie Amelie, by never mixing flavours on the same plate of food.

Then came the hard part.  Out into the vineyards we were taken by Nicolas, this time by the road (!) and we each took our secateurs and a bucket and were given instructions on how to pick the grapes.  When we had all picked a bucket-full, we emptied them into a large box, and then followed the boxes to the pressoir, where we witnessed the pressing of the grapes we had picked.

The press is so sophisticated, that it only presses the mature grapes and leaves everything else un-pressed, even the ladybirds!

The results of our hard work will not be known for at least 4 years, but I’ve no doubt that it will be an amazing cuvee that everyone will be talking about for years to come!

Happy days :-)

 

If you’d like to know how you too can be part of this exciting event on the Champagne calendar in 2012, email now at yvonne@yvonnehalling.com before all the places are taken.  Looking forward to hearing from you soon :-)

 

A Walk in the (Verzy) Forest

Today was such a beautiful day, my daughters and I took a stroll through the wonderful forest of Verzy and shot some video so you can see what it’s like.  Rare beech trees grow here, called “Les Faux” which literally means the false ones, but they’re not false, they’re real!  Instead of growing straight up like a regular beech tree, they grow this way and that in a gnarled and hap-hazard way, and cast their branches right down to the ground, making a sort of umbrella or igloo shape.  Rare indeed.

Take a look at the video here… enjoy!

Party time in Verzy

Wednesday was the final English lesson of 2011 for my lovely French ladies, so we decided to have a party. I invited some real English ladies too, so that they would have lots of opportunity to speak English. Needless to say, it was great fun, and the champagne was flowing, of course!

Categories: B&B

Reims Cathedral like you’ve never seen it before

Standing outside Reims Cathedral at 11pm is not what I’m usually doing on a Thursday night, but yesterday was an exception.  From now until the end of October, every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening at around this time, you too can witness an amazing 3D sound and light show celebrating the 800th anniversary of the magnificent gothic cathedral.

Take a look at this video below to get a taste of what you’ll experience when you visit yourself.  Enjoy

Categories: B&B

Meet Nicolas Rainon

Hello and today I’m interviewing Nicolas Rainon, who’s going to be taking us on a magical ride out into the vineyards for just a small group of fellow champagne lovers, who’ll be joining us in November, here in Champagne.

Nicolas is an expert on viticulture, and he’s going to be sharing his knowledge with us. Here’s what’s in store for us:

Categories: B&B

Interview with Steve Charters

Hi there, today I interviewed Steve Charters who’s a Master of Wine, no less.   Steve lives here in Champagne too, and he’s going to be joining us on our exclusive weekend in November, where you too will be able to chat with Steve and ask him all your burning questions, while tasting a range of very different champagnes.  Here’s what’s in store:

Categories: B&B

A very Special Weekend in Champagne

I’m just putting the finishing touches to our fabulous weekend in Champagne for serious champagne lovers this November.  This is your chance to join us for what will be a champagne experience you’ll always remember, and don’t be surprised to find that it becomes a regular date in your calendar.  We have some exciting events lined up, and over the next few days I’ll be posting lots more information about the weekend, including interviews with some of the partners who’ll be joining us.

This weekend in November is not for everyone, so to make sure you don’t miss out on this exclusive invitation to join our intimate group,   simply put your name and email address in the box below, and I’ll be in touch again very soon.

Thank you

 

Yvonne

Categories: B&B

More Clicquot

Continuing the Veuve Clicquot theme that I started on a previous post, I took Pepper out into the vineyards today, behind the Clicquot Manoir here in Verzy, and discovered some little yellow signs alongside the vines.  Each sign had a name on it with a date, and I was fascinated to learn what they were for.

Take a look at the video and you’ll find out.

Enjoy!