Saturday, 31 July 2010

Outside of Paris: Part 1 - Champagne Region - Le Chateau de Mesnil

It has become a must to have champagne when we celebrate a holiday, a grand occasion, or on casual occasions as well - like at brunch, at a small gathering of friends, or any occasion you may think of - that would be just as suitable, too.


The Champagne region is just a little over two hours from the city of Paris, by bus or car. 
First, we were on the freeway...

then into the country roads...and finally...


we arrived at the Chateau de Mesnil.


It all starts here, where the pallets of grapes are brought down through this square, 
metal trap-doors that open...


and the grapes are dropped down into these vats, 
where they are mushed and kept to ferment...


then filtered...




under controlled temperatures.


The bottling process begins here...


capping...


corking and crowning...


chilling.


Then they go before a lit-up panel so their clarity can be checked.




Next stage is crating and delivery to the next section...


where the bottles are stored to age. They are rotated automatically.


This is a cooperative. Products for other chateaus are produced here, too.


This is the packaging section.


This is a bit blurred as my lens fogged up in the previous section where it was so cold.


Here is the boxing machine...


followed by palletizing the cases of champagne; then, shrink-wrapped before delivery.


Here comes the best part: champagne tasting!


The Champagne brand can only be used in France for bubblies that are produced in the Champagne region. When they come from other places, they are identified as Cremant de...


This is the milder one - Brut...


Next, the Millesime...both were good. We put in our orders, took delivery, 
and went on our way to have lunch.


We drove by the town's Hotel de Ville (City Hall)...


vineyards of the chardonnay variety...


and by a place which once was a castle but now the majestic Chateau de Montfort.


We arrived at the restaurant, La Cheval Blanc, not far from Chateau de Montfort and...


had our 3-course meal...


our entree...


our main course...salmon,


our dessert!


Back on the bus again and off to the next stop...


la Cathedrale de Reims.

Join me again...and we'll finish this tour, soon, to the cathedral.

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