After spending a few days traipsing through Burgundy, the Englishman and I packed up our rental car and headed north to spend a couple of days Champagne Tasting in Epernay. I thought Burgundy was tough to top, but I fell in LOVE with Epernay. I’m already plotting my return because I loved this charming town so much.
Epernay is located about 2 hours north-east of Paris in the Marne region. It’s known as France’s “champagne capital” as the majority of champagne producers are located in Epernay and nearby town Reims. And a little fun fact: only champagne produced in this region can truly be called champagne. Champagne produced in other countries/cities is known as “sparkling wine.”
As a big lover of the bubbly, I was quite excited to do some champagne tasting in Epernay, and the city definitely did not disappoint. Right in the center of the city is the Avenue de Champagne, which is home to some of the world’s most famous champagne houses including Mercier, Moet et Chandon and Perrier Jouet. The Englishman and i decided to start our champagne filled day with at tour at Mercier.
Mercier is one of the first champagne houses to be built in Epernay and one of the only to offer a tour of their working cellars. After a brief overview of the history of Mercier, we were whisked down 30 meters underground to start the tour.
We hopped on a little train and listened to an audio tour that explained the champagne making process from picking the grapes, to bottling and distribution. It was really interesting to learn about the process from start to finish and I loved seeing the working cellar in action.
At the end of the tour we were greeted with a glass of champagne which was a nice touch. Nothing like starting off your morning with a glass of bubbly at 10:30am!
After our tour of Mercier, the Englishman and I started to pop in and out of various champagne houses along the Avenue de Champagne for tasting. The crazy thing about champagne tasting in Epernay is that the prices are so cheap! You can get a really high quality glass of champagne for roughly 4-6 Euro, which is about 6-8 US dollars (based on the current exchange rate).
The Englishman and I are both fans of champagnes that are more on the dry side and not very sweet at all, so we pretty much loved every glass that we tasted throughout the day.
The last house we visited was Janisson-Baradon, where we ended up having a lovely conversation with one of the owners, who is hoping to get distribution in the states one day. His champagne was our favorite of the day, so we ended up buying a couple of bottles to smuggle home to the US.
Of course no day of champagne tasting is complete without an amazing French meal after, but I’ll recap that in another post because it was THAT good. I do have to give a little shout out to the creme brulee we had one night in Epernay, because it was probably the best creme brulee I’ve had in my life.
Even if you aren’t a big champagne drinker (like the Englishman), I feel like Epernay is a must-visit if you find yourself in France. The food is fabulous, the people are super friendly and the champagne is GOOD. Now if only I could get a job at one of the champagne houses….