Tasting champagne in Champagne – are you coming?

Artisan_du_Champagne_MKB_34April is one of the best times to come to Champagne, before the season really gets going, and if you’re a champagne enthusiast, you’ll definitely want to be at one of four of the best and most dynamic champagne tastings taking place this year.

The first is the Terroirs et Talents de Champagne and  takes place in Epernay on  Sunday 13th and 14th April at the Restaurant Au  Théatre. In no particular order (!) Champagne producers taking part at this tasting will include:

From La Montagne de Reims:

  • Aspasie
  • Maxime Blin
  • Penet Chardonnet

From La Côte des Blancs:

  • de Sousa
  • André Jacquart
  • Vazart Coquart

From La Vallée de la Marne:

  • Janisson Baradon
  • Michel Loriot
  • Sélèque

And Jacques Copinet from Le Sézannais
and  Coessens from further south in La Côte des Bar

To book your place at this event, simply email: terroirs.et.talents@gmail.com

Your next date is on  Monday 14th for the Terres et Vins de Champagne at the
Hotel Castel Jeanson, Ay, and in no particular order,  the champagnes being presented at this tasting will include:

  • Horiot
  • Agrapart
  • Françoise Bedel
  • Bérche
  • Francis Boulard
  • Chartogne-Taillet
  • Couche
  • Doquet
  • René Geoffroy
  • Etienne Goutourbe
  • Jeauneaux-Robin
  • Benoit Lahaye
  • Laherte Fréres
  • Tarlant
  • Leclapart
  • Franck Pascal
  • Hubert Paulet
  • Pouillon & Fils

Go here to book your place at this event (unfortunately their website is not up to date for 2014)

http://www.terresetvinsdechampagne.com/home/formulaire.php

Go to Formulaire d’Inscription

And third is Les Artisans du Champagne on 15th April at Chateau Les Crayeres, Reims.  You’ll be able to meet and chat with these producers there:

  • Maillard
  • Paillard
  • Savart
  • Huré
  • Hébrard
  • Gerbais
  • Doyard
  • JL Vergon
  • Alfred Gratien
  • Margaine
  • Vilmart
  • Lancleot Pienne
  • Dehours
  • Gonet Médeville

You’ll need to go here to get yourself into this event:

http://www.lesartisansduchampagne.com/

Go to Inscription en Lignes,

And finally, on the 16th April, David Pehu and his group will be presenting their champagnes, venue to be confirmed, so let us know if you want more details and we’ll be sure to get them to you when we know more.

Well, if that’s not a great selection of small producers, I don’t know what is!   CLICK HERE to book your room.  Looking forward to seeing you in Champagne in April.

Stay Bubbly!

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Questions raised about living in Champagne

Hello again,

We’ve had a lot of questions about what it’s like to live in Champagne, so I thought I’d do a blog post to answer them for you.  So here goes…

What are the costs of running the house?

There are three charges to pay that are relatively fixed:

Taxe d’Habitation (residents’ tax) which is approximately €80 per month

Tax Fonciere (property tax) again about €80 per month

Assainissement ( Local water cleaning services ) around €430 per year

 Variable running costs

The house is heated by gas, and including electricity,costs approximately  €330 per month

The water supply is metered and costs approximately  €77 per month

Keep in mind that the approximate costs mentioned above include the costs of running the whole house including the B & B.

I work from home. What’s the Internet access like?

There is broadband service to the house which is reliable and comes in at around €36 per month

There is reasonable coverage for mobile (cell phones) which can vary in different parts of the house, but it is generally reliable.  SFR is the best service provider for the village

I don’t have much experience of driving in France. Is there any public transport?

There is little in the way of local transport. A car is necessary. The huge advantage though, is that there is very little traffic and driving around here is still pretty enjoyable.

What are the neighbours like?

In general people are very family-oriented and tend to keep themselves to themselves. Nevertheless we have never experienced anything but kindness and helpfulness from any of the villagers.  We’ve made some great friends here.

The house itself is one of several in the centre of the village with adjoining walls and/or gardens. As happens the world over they occasionally have parties, but these are once or twice a year and not a problem.   The upside of that is whenever we have a party, no-one complains.  The French really do “live and let live”.

How easy it is to set up a business?

This is an area in which you need to take specialist advice but our own experience is that there are two main options:

a)You can register as an auto-entrepreneur (self-employed sole trader).

This does not require any capital investment however there are certain limits to the turnover you are allowed before you have to register as a company. No bookkeeping is required; you simply report your turnover each month or each quarter and pay a percentage of tax on that amount.  At the moment, the flat rate is 15%.

b)If you register as a business you will need to invest a capital amount. In this case complete bookkeeping is needed to record income and expenditure. Tax is paid on the net profit.

The current upper income limit for a B & B is €81,500 per year

Note that a B & B may have up to 5 bedrooms. More than that and it is classified as a hotel which brings with it a lot more regulations and costs.

Will I have to learn to speak French?

That depends on you, and what you want to get out of your experience in France.  You know when you see foreigners all grouped together in your country, how does it make you feel that they don’t speak your language, and yet they are living in your country?   If you want to get the most enjoyment and the best experience of France, then you’ll need to be able to speak a little French.  And when you try to speak French, they will help you, (except in Paris of course!)

Are there many English speaking people living there?

Yes, in fact there’s a small but growing, supportive ex-pat community in the region, and we get together regularly to do silly anglo-saxon things, like carol singing, bonfire night etc. The French think we’re mad, and we probably are!

Do you have some more questions?  Simply drop us an email at yvonne@lesmolyneux.com and we’ll be happy to answer them :-)

 

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!

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!