After a long trip from Munich our friend Eva jumped straight to the challenge of mastering the locks on the Canal l’Aisne.  Continuing to travel through Champagne we stopped at a small village surrounded by vineyards. Unfortunately it rained for a whole day which made a tour of the champagne merchants impossible. The weather became sunny and warm again reaching Epernay and it didn’t take us long to find the “Avenue de Champagne”, a long majestic allée lined by some of the most famous Champagne companies. The cellars or caves I expected were more palatial buildings offering tours and degustations. 

        We decided on the in 1858  founded Caves of “Mercier”.

Initially Messieurs Mercier had built a huge barrel from 150 hungarian oak trees to ensure a consistent quality of his champagne. Now a small train takes visitors through the 18kms of tunnel system where a constant temperature of 10 degrees celsius and 90% humidity is maintained. In the side tunnels hundreds of crates with champagne lay in waiting for 3-5 years while the second fermentation takes place within the bottles.

The grapes are a mixture of two red varieties, the Menier and Pinot Noir grape (the white flesh minus the grape skin) and the white Chardonnay grape.

Eva did a quality check on the grapes earlier on and found them satisfactory.

A process of tilting and freezing allows removal of the 

sediment of the added yeast and sugar without loss of bubbles, before being resealed and capped.

The tour ended with champagne tasting at about 12 noon. The rest of the day is a blur!

© Austin Robinson 2019