Champagne Harvest 2012 is coming soon


How would you like to join us here in Champagne and experience the highlight of the year – The Harvest?  We’ve put together a programme so you can do just that!

Between the 20th and 30th September, you have the opportunity of becoming part of the harvesting team for one day,  picking the grapes, following them to the “pressoir”, tasting the juice as it comes directly from the crushed grapes, and experiencing the atmosphere and excitement of this special time.

Your day will begin at one of our favourite champagne maker’s “vendangeoir” where you’ll pick up your secateurs and be taken into the vineyards with the team, where you’ll begin picking.  You’ll then follow the process back at the “pressoir” and witness first hand how it’s all done champagne-style.

A traditional harvester’s lunch and some serious champagne tasting is included, and all you need to do now is to book yourself a place by clicking here.

The package includes:

  • Two nights’ B&B accommodation at Les Molyneux
  • Dinner on your arrival night with champagne and wine
  • A full day out with one of our favourite champagne makers

Prices are 355 euros for one person and 520 euros for two people sharing a room.

Here’s what you need to do now:

  1. Simply Click Here to book your accommodation at Les Molyneux
  2. Choose two nights’ between the 20th and 30th September
  3. Put a note for us in the Comments Box of the reservation form that you want to come on the Harvest Special

That’s it!  We’ll then organise your day’s harvesting, and be in touch with you again very soon.

Places are limited, so hurry and book now and we’ll see you soon in Champagne!

Yvonne

x

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!

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!

Veuve Clicquot’s Mansion in Verzy

I was out and about with my dog today, so I took three short videos on the lovely mansion here in Verzy, built by Mme Clicquot in the mid 1800s for entertaining her very important clients from the European aristocracy. It’s still used to today to entertain VIP clients, by invitation only. Take a look at the videos here… Enjoy!

Sexual confusion in the vineyards

This is a short video about how the grape farmers stop the rot caused by two particular butterflies.  They attach small brown plastic pods to the wires which support the vines, inside of which is the sexual hormones of the female butterflies.  The emission of the hormones confuses the male butterflies and so they can’t find the eggs to fertilise!  I thought that was so clever when it was explained to me by Isabelle Corbeaux of Champagne Pierre Deville and Veronique Lallement of Champagne Lallement, two lovely French ladies who are part of my English class here in Verzy. 

You can see what I’m talking about in this video below.

Enjoy!

Out and about in Reims

Today was such a glorious day again, I decided to shoot some video of Reims.  The new Tramway is now operational, and transporting people around this historic city, easily and smoothly.  The cathedral looks fantastic having just been cleaned (well some of it, at least) and so I wanted to showcase the city here.  

Reims is the only place in the world to have three UNESCO World Heritage sites, the magnificent gothic cathedral, the Palais du Tau and the Basilique St. Remi.  

The cathedral was first constructed in 1097 and was used to crown the Kings of France, before they did away with all that during the French Revolution! 

It was originally a Roman town, and when they began excavations for the tramway, the work was considerably delayed due to archeologists having to be informed whenever an artefact was discovered, and there were many! 

If you’ve been to Reims in the last few years, you’ll know how disruptive the works were, but now it’s all done, I hope you’ll agree that it was worth it.  The city looks lovely now and well worth a visit.   

I hope you enjoy these videos.  Please do leave a comment and let me know what you think of Reims.

More reasons to visit Champagne

Since returning to Champagne just over a year ago, I have been surprised at the amount of development that’s been going on in the region.  Reims is expanding, growing and bringing itself into the 21st century with style and elegance, and it’s a joy to watch. 

First the arrival of the high speed train TGV in 2007, then a new southern bypass around the city, and then lots of new businesses springing up and the opening of  IKEA.  Next is the official inauguration of the smart new tramway in the city centre on the 16th April.

It’s buzzing, thriving and upbeat.  A refreshing change from other recession-hit areas. 

Take a look at this great article in the Guardian, then come on down and see for yourself.

Enjoy!

Learning something new

While out walking my dog Pepper yesterday, I met one of my English students, Virginie.  She was out walking her dog, Vasco (de Gama) and we talked while the dogs sniffed each other’s behinds as dogs do, and chased around following the smells of the forest.  She is the only beginner in our English group, and sometimes struggles to keep up with the class.  I try to vary the levels each week so there is always something for everyone.  So Virginie persists and comes along every week to learn.  She said she found it hard to learn English, and I remembered my first dancing class here in the village not many months ago. 

I joined the class because I love dancing but hadn’t indulged in it for many years and so I felt a little out of place.  Everyone else seemed younger, and to know the moves, but I didn’t.  In the beginning I sometimes came home after class feeling a little despondent, thinking to myself that there was no way I could do this.  But I persisted and eventually I managed to follow the rather complicated (in my opinion only) moves.

Learning something new can be difficult at first and we are inclined to give up when we tell ourselves that we’re just not capable, or that we’re too old or too fat, or too thin, or don’t have a good enough memory, etc. etc.   We give ourselves excuses not to show up in case we think we look foolish. In reality we’re giving up on ourselves, which is a great shame. 

Just off now to rest my twisted ankle!

Festivals in Champagne

Last Sunday, the sun was shining and the sky was blue, so we headed off to the nearby village of Ay, which was more prominent than Epernay back in the days of Henri IV.  He favoured many of the champagne houses there, especially Bollinger.  So every other year, even numbers only, the residents of Ay hold a festival in his honour.  Here are some pictures of the day.

It was quite warm, but thankfully someone thought to give the horses some shade under the parasol!

Many of the champagne houses opened their doors to the tourists, and here at Bollinger, there was al fresco dining to the tune of a small group of musicians.

And lunch at Champagne Ed. Brun was very lively with a fantastic jazz band playing while we ate.

Put it in your diary for 2012, it’s a great day out