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Champagne-Ardenne: Reims: "Reims and Chateau de Saran"
MAGICAL, mesmerizing bubbles of light are like liquid stars that you drink…to pleasure all your senses.
CHAMPAGNE, just the word brings to mind glamour, good taste, gourmet food, James Bond 007 and all the good things in life. Well, Reims is one of THE places to visit for this most prestigious of drinks. I was privileged to be part of the Vendange or harvest this year, which began on 13 Sep 2010.
At Moet and Chandon, on 21 Sep, there was an extraordinary harvest where in honneur of the tradition and histoire of Champagne, all the harvesters, well except for me that is, were in authentiqally researched period costumes circa the 1800s. It was hot at 28 C in the sun with blue, cloudless skies. Harvest began and continued with much merrymaking, including a 3 piece Gypsy combo, a cute donkey, and two sturdy stallions to pull the old wagon to bring the harvest of chardonnay to make Dom Perignon, no less, to the Pressoir in the winery.
The pressoir was the real antique type and operated by hand, totally by muscle power. Even the secateurs (clippers) were all metal of an ancient but very efficient design, definitely not the plastic sort. Another type was like a mini scythe.
Hard work it is to harvest the grapes but when you feel like a break, a few fresh chardonnay grapes in your mouth is very rejuvenating!!! After a good morning’s work, it was off to the winery for pressing the juice and I can tell you there is nothing like the taste of freshly squeezed chardonnay grape juice…except the kiss of a beautiful, warm woman.
Lunch was no Michelin star affair but very, very good and super satisfying with Potage Champenoise of ham, pork, beef, tongue, carrot, pomme de terre (potatoes), white cabbage…Dessert!!! An assortment of Fromage plus Tarte avec Chardonnay grapes on a bed of tender creme anglais. C’est fantastique!!!
All the good food washed down with lashings of Moet and Chandon Non vintage champagne or as I prefer to call it : Multi Vintage Champage, because that is truly what champagne is… the BEST of many years’ hard work, made with love and passion! What is good food without good bubbly after all..
Somehow they cajoled me in to singing a song. I did.
I sang La mome’s ‘Je ne regrette rein!’The Gypsy band sung along and played wonderfully!
OMG! What a happy day!
Night found me in that very exclusive residence, Chateau de Saran. The old hunting lodge of the Moet and Chandon familie, it is now a very special guest house for very exclusive invited guests. I have stayed in Scottish Castles and Italian Castellos before but Chateau de Saran is somehow very, very special. There is a warmth, a joy and a sense of happy tranqulity here. Luxurious too. As I fell asleep to champagne dreams and caviar wishes…I felt really good. Good champagne, the King of wines and the wine of Kings always does that to you… The Travelling Gourmet