Champagne dégustation/visite, Reims/Epernay
My husband and I are going to be outside Reims (Sept-Saulx) for about 5 days at the end of this month. Searches on this board turn up older threads suggesting that taking a formal tour of at least one of the really big houses is worth it, and seeming to give Pommery the nod for that. Since in addition to visiting Reims and Epernay themselves, we'll be driving around enjoying the area, we were wondering if anyone had recommendations of two or three smaller houses that wouldn't require reservations. (We wouldn't be trying to cram them all in in one day.)
Here are some excellent addresses. As we always buy champagne I can't tell you for sure if there is a tasting fee at Vilmart or Alfred Gratien. There is at Mailly unless you buy champagne. At Launois you have to pay for the tour and the tasting is included. These are not listed in any order of preference. They are ALL worth a visit.
Champagne Vilmart & Cie
BP4 5 rue de Gravières
51500 Rilly la Montagne
03 26 03 40 01
Open M-F 9h-12h, 14-17h30
Great prices for rich, high-quality champagne, “The poor man’s Krug”.
Champagne Mailly Grand Cru
28 rue de la Liberation
Open M-F 8h30-12h, 14h-18h
May through 15 December 9h-17h,
Sundays and holiday, 11h-17h
Excellent cooperative, friendly people. Gorgeous champagne.
30, rue Maurice Cerveaux
03 26 54 38 20
You have to make an appointment but it is well worth it! Low key. They let the champagne speak for itself. (Not sure if English is spoken though).
Launois Père & Fils
2, Avenue Eugène Guillaume - B.P. 7
51190 Le Mesnil-sur-Oger
03 26 57 50 15
Must book ahead. An excellent tour though it’s a 2-hour commitment. Everything you wanted to know about champagne and more as you visit the extensive museum and cellars, followed by a wonderful champagne-tasting.
Tasting included in the tour fee.
Moet in Epernay requires reservations but is a good tour. And while driving around, make sure to see the totally charming village of Hauteville. We didn't visit any vineyard there, but it was a treasure of a town. And they have a tiny tourist office there which had a nice art exhibit at the time.
I just thought to be helpful to future searchers, I would post our experience: we actually did find many small houses in the area open for visits and tastings without reservations. (The harvest was just beginning in some areas and a week away in others.) We ended up booking the Mumm tour in Epernay, which was a bit commercial but worth it, especially for the vintage tasting for which we opted at the end. We also enjoyed tasting a flight of champagnes at C Comme in Epernay and learning about the differences in taste depending on proportions of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Noir -- I'd recommend this experience for anyone who is not thoroughly conversant with different styles of champagne.
All the houses will require reservations, especially the smaller houses. Winemakers are farmers, after all, and they are working their farms. The harvest will either be in full swing, or in at least some phase, and without a reservation there will be no one with any time to show you around or taste with you.
Goodness, thanks for this! The listings from, e.g., the Epernay tourist office show many places that don't mention reservations as being required, and in other wine-growing regions I've long been accustomed to dropping in for a tasting with no problem at all. It's very helpful to know that won't fly in this case.
Still interested in recommendations of favorites, if anyone has them.