My man friend is a man of many traditions. Cyclocross races, concerts, special dinners… if the event happens for more than one year in row, it is likely going to become a “tradition.”
So he has the tradition of going to the Champagne region of France with his college buddies every July. They rent out an apartment for the weekend, book reservations at vineyards (is it still called vineyards for champagne?), sample champagnes, and take home too many boxes.
This year, I modified the tradition by going along with. Any time I go out with Jeroen’s friends, it changes the dynamic a bit. Not just because when you’re hanging with people who have friends for 15+, it can feel like they’re speaking another language… but because, for real, if I wasn’t there they’d be speaking another language.
I’m not complaining. I get along great with the friends, and they all speak English with me, so I’m never really left out. Plus, they assured me, most of the presentations are in French and they don’t really understand much of what is being said anyway. It’s all about the champagne. And I am too.
We started out the morning by picking up Michael, then following Veronic and Davy’s vehicle on the route to our first vineyard in France, which was in the Écueil region. The goal was to arrive by 2:00pm, meet Lies & Christophe at La Courte-Guillemart, and start the party off with a fresh glass of bubbles.
Well, you know what they say about best laid plans. We ended up not being able to find the city/vineyard in time for our tasting (although Christophe and Lies did, so at least some people can stick to a schedule), and we had the choice of going there and missing our next, or cutting our losses and moving on. We opted to move on to the second, which was in the same area: Feneuil Pointillart.
The tasting was fun. The group was right, it was all in French and the lady who was giving the tasting did not speak any Dutch or English, so everyone followed along as best they could. Granted, the Belgians had the advantage of pretty much knowing the language, but everyone was a bit rusty. We walked out of there with five bottles…. well, some other people walked out with less, but Jeroen and I walked out with five. 🙂
The next champagne house was our last for the day, Henri David-Heyck. This vineyard and tasting area was alongside a beautiful hillside vineyard. The tasting was inside a cozy room, and the host was very accommodating. Lies was in love with the rose champagne, and I had to agree that it was pretty dang tasty. An hour passed, and we walked out with one bottle of the rose and six bottles of brut. (Total bottle count thus far: 12)
After we were done with the tastings, we found our way to our house, where the owner had set a few bottles in the fridge for us as a welcome. The girls and Jeroen went to the grocery store to gather supplies for the weekend, and the boys took some time to relax and, well, feel welcomed.
The next day, we set off fairly early to go to a place they had been the previous year, Bliard-Moriset. It was a great place to kick off the day.
The tasting room was in a city, so you didn’t see the vineyards, but you could see an impressive collection of custom painted champagne tops. The man in charge did special collector’s additions, and they were very aesthetic. He sat with us while we drank, giving us extras here and there, and speaking with the group with our broken French, fluent Dutch, and mixed level of English. It was easy enough to do after one glass, but we started to get confused after another two. 😉 18 bottles from there, 30 total.
Eric Isselee was a new vendor on the list, and our second hit for the day. I really liked this place; the champagne was decent, and we found out the owner also has vacation property for rent. The places looked really impressive, some with swimming pools (I don’t even like swimming that much, but I do like to lay by the pool), and we took a pamphlet for further information. Who knows? Maybe that’s where we’ll end up for the 2017 Champagne weekend.
42 bottles total.
The last place we went was everyone’s favorite, and it has been for many years. The group tries to go to new champagne houses every year to get a taste of the region, but they can’t seem to say no to Diogene Tissier & Fils.
Not surprisingly, it also became my favorite. We sat outside at a slightly uncomfortable picnic table, but the people serving were super nice and the ambiance was good. Many other customers came and went during our time there, and they let us sample almost every bottle we requested. (The group must have gained a good reputation there from previous years). And I think we kept the good reputation up: 30 bottles from there, 72 bottles for the weekend.
Next year, let’s make it 75. 😉
THE TRAVELIN’ SONG: Fancy (Iggy Azalea). First things first, I’m a realist. And if I steal a song lyric to make it the blog title, I should probably credit the artist.
BUDGET: Now, to be fair, Jeroen buys all the champagne, which is the major cost of this trip. Even though I help drink it, he would’ve bought the same amount with or without me. Plus, he’s hella rich. I paid a total of $150, which was my split of groceries, food, and housing.
TIP FOR TRAVELERS: You might want to brush up on your French before touring champagne houses, or do your research ahead of time to find more “mainstream” ones that also speak English.
DEFINITELY CHECK OUT: Diogene Tissier & Fils. Tasty.