I didn't grow up wanting to visit the Champagne region of France; I didn't even have it on a bucket list. Why did I go you might be asking? My better half insisted. She is a connoisseur, and a lover of good bubbly. I just like alcohol.
When we got to the Champagne region of France, Reims to be more specific, it was midday on a Sunday. Perfect timing you might think. Turns out no. The infamous work ethic of our dear French friends dwarfs the capitalistic thought process, brought on by my American ignorance. The idea of staying open on a weekend to reap the rewards of the weekend traffic apparently wasn't popular. Infact of the numerous Champagne houses in the city, only a few were open Sunday when we arrived. Luckily, for us, and them, Taittinger was one of those houses, and was near the top of our list already.
Upon arriving one thing is obvious, this was a fine tunes business, and the fairy tale chateau I was expecting wasn't going to become reality. Walking up to the tasting room was borderline disappointing. No vines lining a path; no old historical looking feel about the place. It was a asphalt courtyard, with double doors your half expect to see at 7 eleven... WHAT DID I PAY FOR?!
Turns out the look and feel of the Champagne House is actually the least important part of Champagne. When we arrived the interior was lovely, and the staff was very friendly. We signed up for the next english speaking tour and off we went.
The tour started with a ~18 meter descent into the caves below the Champagne House. Quickly the temperature dropped from the mid 70's to a brisk, 45-55 degrees F. The chalk caves naturally keep the cellars this temperature year around.
We toured the caves for what seemed like an hour, countless halls, and thousands of bottles. Somewhere aging, some fermenting, all patiently waiting to be enjoyed. In every corner, every hall, champagne was stacked to the roof.
The cave tour made up for anything that was lacking on the surface. So much work goes into each bottle of champagne, no wonder they don't waste time making the house look like a storybook chateau.
After about an hour we headed back to the surface, and emerged in the Taittinger tasting room. We had finished the history lessons, and finally were going to taste the various champagnes Taittinger had to offer.
I highly recommend stopping by Taittinger if you made it to Reims. The Champagne is excellent, the tour was amazing, and the facilities are top class. The caves beneath the house are in the top 5 in Reims. Very large, well maintained, and extremely fun to explore.
Authors Note: None of the Champagne houses in the city of Reims are "picturesque". They are very nice, but don't visit expecting the grandioseness of Napa or Bordeaux. With that said, they have there own features and history about them that can't be found anywhere else. I would recommend the trip to anyone.