Champagne Help!

Wife and I are heading to Champagne for the first time in November to celebrate the 30th. We have 3 days set aside for touring and want to focus on growers, for a variety of reasons. One day to loaf around Epernay and the Rue de Champagne and then we hit the road…

So far I have tastings booked at Paul Bara, Henri Goutorbe, Gaston Chiquet, and Pierre Gimmonet, and dinner at Les Avises (Selosse). Looking to add a few more. Other houses I’m interested in are Hebrart, A. Margaine, Vazart, Larmandier, Egly-Ouriet, Henri Giraud, Vilmart. Then De Sousa, Geoffroy, Forget-Chemin, Juillet-Lallement, Mousse round out the backup plans.

Couple requests:

  • Anyone see any glaring issues with the list? Or have any recommendations from experience? I haven’t said much about our tastes but imagine we’re considering a mix of reputation, quality, receptiveness, location/convenience, accessibility.
  • Anyone have leads on visiting Egly & Hebrart? Neither have much of a web presence. I did find an email address for MH but EO seems pretty elusive.

Thanks all!

Vilmart should have completed a new tasting room by then. We had a nice visit there in April.

EO doesn’t accept visits for the most part. Apparently for even their import agents it’s a challenge.

They also don’t speak English and rumor is it might not be that “fun” even if you can get in.

We did about the same trip back in March. I think three days is good, but you’ll be a little rushed. Some tips;

  • I would suggest staying in Epernay if you’re not already booked somewhere else, since it’s centrally located. Staying in Reims (make sure you can pronounce it correctly; Rance) would be fine and likely fun, but you’ll do a lot more driving.
  • Take the TGV straight from CDG airport to Reims and rent a car from Sixt. Super easy and way faster than driving from Paris. If you’re flying into Orly, you can take the AirFrance shuttle directly from Orly to CDG to catch the TGV to Reims. Still faster than driving. Cars in France are tiny. Even their SUVs. Hopefully you can drive a manual. Don’t speed. Seriously; don’t speed.
  • Group your visits by region (maybe this is obvious) and try to hit all three; Cotes des Blanc, Montagne de Reims (Verzy/Verzenay are great), and Grand Vallee (stick to villages around Ay). These areas are pretty large, but not so large that you can’t bounce around a bit within a single region. Going from one major region to another in a single day will eat up precious time.
  • Don’t discount visiting a reputable non-grower. The chalk cellars are amazing in Reims. Ruinart gets rave reviews as does Krug (if you can get in). We went to Billecart and they don’t have the huge white chalk cellars of some houses, but it was one of the best tastings and tours I’ve ever been on.
  • Some of the less known or smaller growers are fun to visit, but communication can be a challenge.

Hope this is helpful.

Hi folks, thanks for the tips so far. We’re almost done with our itinerary. On day 1 we move in a straight line from Bouzy to Dizy, with visits at Paul Bara, Henri Giraud, Billecart Salmon, and Gaston Chiquet. On day 2 we go from the Cote de Blancs up toward our departure point near Reims, visiting Launois, Larmandier-Bernier, Marc Hebrart, and Vilmart.

I’m looking to replace Henri Giraud as I have read that the champagne is not the best value. I doubt we will be repeat purchasers, so I am looking for a substitute. A few options I was considering… A. Margaine is close to Bouzy, I have read good things. We could dip back into the CdB and visit Gimonnet, Peters, or De Sousa. Vazart and Goutorbe are also Special Club producer options nearby. I would have included Geoffroy but they’re unavailable that day.

Does anyone have experience with these producers and would make a recommendation?

Also, despite my best efforts, I haven’t made any traction with Krug. We’re spending another day in Reims and I’d like to see the Special Club tasting room, Krug, and Ruinart. I contacted a Krug Brand Rep I’ve worked with in the past and had no luck. Anyone have any tips there?

Thanks all!

Giraud is in Ay, so definitely consider Goutorbe. To avoid backtracking you’ll want to go Bara > Billecart > Ay > Chiquet. Dipping into the CdB is doable, but a pretty significant detour. Probably not feasible to go any further than Cramant or Cuis. Gimmonet is a great place to visit.

Ultimately, you’re going to be driving a lot with your itinerary. 4 properties a day is ambitious and may cause you to be a little rushed.