Tt le mondeThe dates for the champagne harvest for 2013 have been announced, and it starts in Verzy on the 4th October for Chardonnay grapes and the 6th October for Pinot Noir grapes.

And you can come and get involved if you want to experience the atmosphere and the excitement of the highlight of the year here in Champagne.

Your day starts with a trip out to the vineyards and armed with a pair of secateurs, you’ll be instructed on what to pick, how to pick and where to put the grapes when you’ve picked!

And then, off to the press house to enjoy the process of crushing the grapes and watching the juice being extracted, followed by a tasting of the juice straight from the press.

Lunch follows where you’ll enjoy 3 champagnes and a typical harvesters lunch with the team.  Would you like to come?

Click here to find out more and we’re looking forward to seeing you in Champagne for the 2013 harvest ;-)

 

 

Champagne Tasting in Champagne

April 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 (the picture is from last year’s event, sadly)

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.

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

Stay Bubbly!

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!

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!

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

Walking in the forest

It was such a beautiful day yesterday, that I decided to take my dog up into the forest and take some pictures of ‘Les Faux’ the twisted beech trees that only grow here in Verzy, near Hanover in Germany and near Malmo in Sweden.  Hope you like the pictures.  I took some video too, and once I figure out how to upload it, I’ll do it!   Just one of the great things we can do here in Verzy.