Saturday 31st March 2018
A yellowy sun pops its head out through the clouds and warms the day up. We did a quick morning walk for 45 minutes along the old railway track
We are looking forward to going to the Champagne region today, left about 11am and we enjoyed the drive through rural France listening to a master mix of disco hits! Guess what? we found the Aire without a hitch, it’s easy when you know what you are doing with the GPS coordinates!
We are the second motorhome here now at Mutigny in heart of the champagne region, 170 kms north east of Paris. We park next to the service bollard as we need to top up with water and electric, costs €5 for 300 litres of water and 3 hours electric, it’s a sharing system and it seems to work well enough. A kind German motorhomer lent me his water connector as mine didn’t fit, we will buy one locally soon.
Shortly afterwards we walk up the hill to the centre to find out more information on the tours and walks, everywhere is closed, so we asked the locals and later knocked on the door of a Champagne producers’ home where they also make Champagne, she has a sale board ouside, a lady appears and then between Cathy and the lady, Cathy speaks a little French, we deduce we have to be at the town hall at 5pm tonight and her daughter will there to explain and help us choose a tour or tasting.
Okay we said we will come back in 3 hours and meet her at 5pm, as we walk off Cathy saw a young man unloading his car, Cathy asked him if he knows anything about the tour and tasting, he said yes, Cathy explained about the previous chat at the producers house 4 doors away, and Cathy asked where do we meet.
He then says it’s my grandad you want, hang on I’ll call him, incredibly the grandad says he can come now to the Town Hall where it takes place and he can do the tasting for us, so between the young man, grandad and us we establish that there are no English speakers on the tour so we opt for the tasting, we ask if we can come back in hour as we haven’t eaten and we didn’t want to get drunk on an empty stomach! Ok that’s no problem they said.
We pop back to the van to make lunch and an English couple arrived at the Aire, we got chatting and asked them if they wanted to join us in the Town Hall for tasting. Tony & Bet from Weymouth said yes, we got back in time and the Town Hall was open and inside was a young lady, Cathy said we are here for the champagne tasting, Cathy told her there was a gentleman coming to do the tasting, the lady said she knew nothing of this, so we waited outside for him.
10 minutes later a chap appears who we assume is grandad, introduces himself in French to us and we all go inside, and grandad introduces us to the same lady! It like a secret society or something!
The lady, Carine, now introduces us to a variety of Champagnes in very good English, complete with detailed information on types of grapes used, two or three methods of fermentation, acidity, the local producers, how the grapes and vines are cultivated. We were particularly keen to try the locally produced ones. Grandad Bernard was showing us how to aerate the bubbles the correct way in our glass.
Whilst chatting it transpires that Bernard had worked in the champagne business for 46 years at Bollinger as a bottle turner, known as a riddler, the bottle is placed upside down in a holder at 75° angle. Each day the Bernard would come in to the cellar and turn the bottles 1/8th of a turn whilst keeping it upside down, this forces the dead yeast cells in to the neck of the bottle, Bernard would typically handle 20,000 to 30,000 bottles a day. Bernard told us this area produces 310 million bottles a year!
We tried, I meant we drank 8 glasses between the four of us, four different varieties, two of which were Rose.
We bought 3 bottles at €17 each, £15 ! (that is a bargain at those prices) and we will save them for special occasions on the trip. We will economise somewhere else!
These champagnes tasted excellent and we were so glad we did the tasting, it was a lovely experience.
Spicy Teriyaki Salmon for evening meal with noodles, I’m trying to persuade Cathy to write her recipes for the blog as she cooks instinctively without recipes, we had another walk around the village in the evening, there are no shops, bars or shops here just houses that sell champagne but there are great views.