December 3, 2019|In Travel

Back to the Sources

Our Promotions Coordinator Lucille travels to Champagne...

“As a true Champenoise it was a real pleasure to go back to France and visit some of our Champagne Houses; my old neighbours, you could say! Being surrounded by vineyards while I was driving brought back so many good memories of hard work and drinking during the grape harvest seasons. When the harvest is done, there is a tradition to have a big feast, which in my region is called “Chien de vendange”, to thank all the workers who participated. As you can imagine, Champagne would flow freely during these celebrations.

Champagne Larmandier-Bernier

Wine barrels in barrel room
Visiting Champagne Larmandier-Bernier's barrel room

My little round trip started at Maison Larmandier-Bernier in Vertus and I was welcomed by Arthur, the 8th generation of Larmandier. As with all the Champagne growers, Larmandier-Bernier really care about nature and the environment that they work in, and since the 90’s pesticides have been totally banned. Larmandier-Bernier officially obtained the bio certification in 2003. They want to leave nature to express all its characteristics in the wines and following this philosophy they don’t use any chemical yeast, only indigenous, which is naturally present on the grapes. They also use very few new barrels to avoid an overwhelming oak flavour.
They have named one of their cuvées ‘Longitude’ because all of the parcels of this cuvée are on the same longitude line as the Côte des Blancs. Another one is called ‘Latitude’ – I’ll let you guess why!

Champagne Egly-Ouriet

Barrels sitting in dark room
Champagne Egly-Ouriet's atmospheric barrel room

After Larmandier-Bernier, I then had the privilege of visiting the Maison Egly-Ouriet and to have been welcomed by Francis Egly himself! I was really impressed to meet the big star of the House but he’s just like you and I – a Champagne lover. He doesn’t consider himself a star, he just loves his work and you can definitely feel it through his amazing cuvées. Tyson Stelzer calls his work “wizardry” and such a statement could not ring more true.

During my visit Mr. Egly told me a lot about biological technologies like the use of orange peel against the mildiou, a disease that can cause severe damage to the vineyards. It was really interesting, and after only a few minutes of talking with him I learned so much!
Mr. Egly doesn’t have the official bio certification because he simply doesn’t feel a need for it. No official certification is required to make him want to take care of his vineyards and the environment, but I can guarantee you that everything is done with a deep respect of mother nature.
Mr. Egly is also incredibly generous – he sponsored me to participate to an incredible adventure to inform people about bone marrow transplantations. You can read on this more here.

Champagne Bouby et Fils

Stainless steel tanks in room
Champagne Bouby et Fils' impressive stainless steel tanks

My third visit was the house Bouby et Fils. This little Maison of 7ha of vineyards and a production of only 15,000 bottles per year has a story worthy of the best drama movies.
Everything started in 1919 when François Bouby, only 19 years old at the time, was sent to Champagne to deactivate the landmines left over after World War I. During this perilous mission he fell ill and was taken care of by a 23-year-old nurse, Rose. They soon fell in love and decide to settle in Verneuil to cultivate their first vineyard and start their Champagne production. After surviving the second world war and 4 generations, the Maison is now run by Jerome Bouby who perfectly carries on his ancestors’ savoir-faire.

Try the Champagne Bouby et Fils Brut selection, you will be surprised by this small Maison full of talent!

Champagne Armand de Brignac

Bottles lined up on shelves
Champagne of all sizes at the esteemed Armand de Brignac tasting room

It was time to visit the magical cave of Armand de Brignac. All of the gold Champagne bottles illuminated in the cave, bringing you in to a new world – it was mesmerizing! However, I was a little bit disappointed I did not meet the owner Jay-Z… They could have at least sent his wife Beyonce to welcome us!

The goal of Armand de Brignac is to create a Champagne to represent the best of the best from the region. Following this, they use the very first and freshest portion of the cuvée press only. They are also the only House in Champagne to blend a trio of vintages in order to bring a unique character from three distinct harvests. Brilliant!

Champagne Billecart-Salmon

Pouring Champagne into glass
Tasting the 2006 Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Nicolas Francois... Whew!

My last, but definitely not least, visit was to the prestigious Maison Billecart-Salmon.
It all started in 1818 when Nicolas François Billecart married Elisabeth Salmon and received vineyards as wedding gifts from both sides of the family – thus, the Maison Billecart-Salmon was born!

What a pleasure to visit this Maison. The architecture of the House is splendid, the design details on the cave are amazing and the tasting at the end was magnificent. All of their wines are so well balanced and fine, I wish this tasting would never ending! But sadly all good things must come to an end…”