When I turned 21, I was taken to a very nice restaurant for dinner. The food was great, but the two things I remember most were the bread and the wine, and I'm not even Catholic. The bread was crusty, warm, and oozing a lovely mixture of butter, honey and seeded mustard. The wine was Piper-Heidsieck champagne. A week later, at my party, I very selfishly enjoyed a bottle of Moët and gave my guests the house white. Hey, it was my birthday!
Now, in France, it was my European duty to ensure these two drops were as good on home soil as they are when shipped to the other side of the world. So we went to Champagne - yes, the actual place. You can't call it champagne unless it's from there.
Ok, so it's a region, like the Barossa or the Clare Valley. We stayed in Reims, and took a day trip to Épernay. These two are home to pretty much your who's who of Maisons de Champagnes. It was merry, it was gay, it was bubbles of little inspiration that had me chopping a fringe on a whim.
Then I found out Piper Heidsieck was closed.
To the public.
But it was a fine way to spend a quintessentially French weekend, with good friends and a good drop. The cellar tours are expensive yet educational, and just a little repetitive. They're certainly impressive, hundreds of kilometres of tunnels underneath the town, and loads of champagne. As in, Pommery alone has 25 MILLION bottles. At at least 30 euros a pop, that's some real estate!
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