Rose bottles maturing 'sur lies' in Champagne cellar
Champagne Aube vineyards
Jubilee Champagne Weekend
2 - 4 June 2012
This celebratory Champagne Weekend gives you the ideal opportunity to stock-up on your champagne drinking should you be planning a party for the Jubilee, or just the excuse to get away for the weekend (and stock up with great champagnes in any case!). If you would prefer to make your stay into a longer one so that you take full advantage of the longer Bank Holiday Weekend, you can choose to travel by car and ferry or Le Shuttle, or perhaps get the train instead. You will then be able to travel out and back at a time and date to suit your own requirements.
Monday 4th June is the Bank Holiday and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is on Tuesday 5th June 2012, therefore this weekend wine tour will coincide with these extra days holiday!
Champagne is fun to drink and a fascinating wine to see being made and the region being so easy to get to makes for a great weekend. Our base for the weekend is a comfortable 3* hotel in the centre of the lively attractive city of Reims.
Our aim is to taste a wide spectrum of Champagnes, to visit a good cross section of Houses, from those that forged Champagne’s reputation such as Taittinger, Pol Roger and Veuve Clicquot to quality growers and rising stars in the villages.
You will taste around 25 champagnes over the course of the weekend, starting at breakfast. You will receive a special welcome and generous tastings at houses that we have been visiting for many years.
Your Comparative Tastings
We want to show you as broad a spectrum of Champagnes over the weekend as possible. So, as always on Arblaster & Clarke Champagne weekends, your Wine Guide will show you a selection of Champagnes in order to introduce the various styles and different Houses or Growers during two tastings, one each evening. No two of our tastings are alike and no two Wine Guides have the same approach to presenting them. We like to choose some unusual Champagnes for you to taste not just the famous names. Most will be to your liking though perhaps some may not. You can normally learn more from these than those you liked, but hopefully you’ll find one or two that you think are fabulous!
Reims has a wealth of wonderful restaurants, brasseries and bistros from Michelin double rossette restaurants (early booking essential!) to more reasonably priced gourmet restaurants and traditional style brasseries. We provide a list of all our tried and tested ones before the trip with phone numbers, so you can book ahead if you wish. However, we will make a reservation at two of our favourite (reasonably priced) brasseries and you are very welcome to join our wine guide or tour manager for dinner where they will select some interesting wines (optional extra cost payable on the spot).
This again is one of the great advantages of an Arblaster & Clarke fully escorted tour, we give you the flexibility to dine alone if this is what your prefer, or the fun of being part of a lively party who generally all get on together really well, especially after the champagne tasting has broken the ice! This is especially appreciated by those clients who travel alone with us.
Breakfast is served each morning at the hotel on the top floor, from where there is a superb view over the town and out towards the cathedral. The A&C tour manager is on hand to exclusively serve our clients with a glass of champagne to go with their buffet breakfast – morning’s will never seem the same again!
Champagne Hatté is a small producer with 10 hectares in the Grand Cru Village of Verzenay, in the Montagne de Reims region which are gentle hills, rather than mountains, to the East of Reims. This region is predominantely planted with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. In striking contrast to the stunning cellars we have seen this morning, the cellars at Hatte look like no more than a garage and tucked below this is a small cellar housing old barrels . The family is traditionalist (like the great house of Krug and Roederer) so still vinify their wines in oak, which is not surprising since the founder of the House, Louis Hatte was the chief winemaker at Roederer until 1952. We will taste these forceful champagnes with Madame Hatté or her son. This is always a “laid back” experience, but the wines are powerful and extremely well made. The family belong to the Special Club of Vignerons, and each of the members produce a wine labelled as “Special Club” which is strictly vetted for quality and bottled in a traditional style bottle. Their top cuvée, Cuvée Benjamin, named after the youngest child, is a forceful, elegant wine, totally typical of Verzenay and made mainly from Pinot Noir, sadly the labelling is a little tacky – but don’t let this put you off! The wines are all incredibly good value – ranging from just 13e to 18e for the top wines. Bring cash and stock up here if you like high quality, full flavoured wines – highly recommended!
Free Time for Lunch in Reims
Lunchtime is free in Reims. You will have time to explore Reims and choose a cafe table to sit at and people watch while you enjoy some local food and a glass of champagne, perhaps!
Our afternoon visit departs mid afternoon and of course if you decide you would rather linger over your lunch, explore Reims further, or simply rest, you can of course choose to miss the visit and meet up with again later for dinner if you prefer.
Our afternoon visit is to a grower Champagne house near Reims, we enjoy a tasting here before returning to Reims for the evening comparative tasting before your free time for dinner.
We visit the beautiful cellars of Champagne Taittinger, which weave for kilometres under the city of Reims. They were carved out of the chalk by the Romans and now house the prestige Cuvée of Taittinger, the ‘Comtes de Champagne’. This is the perfect introduction to Champagne; we see how it is made and then taste a couple of champagnes in their elegant tasting room.
The Billecart family has lived in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ since the 16th century. A small, family-owned house that always produces high-quality Champagnes of great finesse. Billecart-Salmon is particularly renowned for the delicate style of its rosé – the essence of their style has always been its meticulous production, from the double “débourbage” to its long, slow, very cool fermentation. We have watched them rise to super-star status since we first started visiting them in the late 1980s.
Lunch at Champagne Taittinger
For lunch we are invited to the magnificent Château of Champagne Taittinger. The Great War saw it become the headquarters of the Marechal Joffre who was joined by his young cavalry officer – Pierre Charles Taittinger, who fell in love with the building and vowed one day to own it. 20 years later he realised his dream and in 1934, two hundered years after it was built, the Château became the property of the Taittinger family. This very special lunch will accompanied by a comprehensive range of Taittinger Champagnes.
This is not a restaurant but a private invitation to lunch as guests of the family.
After the visit we continue our journey directly back to Calais on on to Dover and London arriving late evening.