Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Champagne Break

We have just returned from a break in the Champagne region of France. We linked up with Geoffs cousin Colin his wife Anne & daughter Alysia who are visiting from Australia.
We stayed at Les Barbotines B & B on the Paul Clouet champagne estate.
It is a super place in the heart of the Montagne de Reims, with just five beautifully decorated  rooms in an old winemaker house.  We stayed in the yellow room, really comfy, light & spacious.
The breakfast was the best I have every had, staying anywhere (I am not one for cooked breakfast) beautifully laid table filled with jams, fruit, various breads, cakes, croissants and so much more, with a daily variation to it.  You sit round a large dining table with the other guests, we met and chatted with some great people.  Including a winemaker from New Zealand, very interesting.  www.tindallvineyard.co.nz  Their wine is available in the UK, the nearest to us is a wine merchant in Canterbury.
This area is littered with champagne houses big and small, you'd think you'd be spoilt for choice of where to go and taste, however its more tricky than you would ever imagine.  I am sure in Reims its easier but out in the small villages its a challenge. 
Lets say to start with its France, they don't like to promote their wares in the way America or Australia would for example, they are more discreet rather than brash and commercial.. so finding somewhere that actually looked opening and welcoming in Bouzy (great name) where we stayed was quite hard.  We did find Herbert Beaufort, and what a find he was.
He has a shop front for selling his wines, he does tastings and tours too, we sat with him round a large table and tried his champagnes whilst he talked passionately about them all, we liked him.  So the next day we returned where he gave us a private tour of his caves.  His champagne is also available at Marks & Spencer.

Herbert Beaufort

The courtyard from our room
We also visited the small picturesque village of Hautvillers on the outskirts of Epernay, where the Benedictine monk, Dom Perignon is buried in the simple village church. Lots of lovely views of the surrounding vines and countryside.  We ate at No.36 a smart  but trendy bistro / restaurant run by brother and sister, naturally with a champagne shop attached.  Here we had lunch and tasted a selection of six champagnes..its a tough life.

Champagne tasting at No.36

Views from Hautvillers


The Brightlings

Also popped into Epernay the first evening for a meal stopping off for some champagne tasting first (naturally) !

We tasted all of these

Anne & I

Geoff & Colin


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