Moet and Chandon tour Epernay
Every now and then, I think it’s ok to do something that might appear a little more touristy. I’m comfortable that our style of independent travel has us following what we want to do, in the way that we want to do it, without becoming tourist sheep.
Our visit to the Moët and Chandon Caves might be considered by some to be more “middle of the road” than “off the beaten path” but with my love of French Champagne, and the beautiful town of Epernay, this was something that I definitely wanted to do.
There are many Champagne Houses on the Avenue de Champagne that allow you to see what they have in the underground caves. We chose Moët and Chandon, one of the older Champagne Houses in the region. Moët and Chandon have been making their own branded Champagne since 1743 and also the famous Dom Pérignon.
The Moët and Chandon House is located on the Avenue, close to the city end of Epernay.
Our tour guide, Justine, meets us at 9.30am and I fall in love with her accent straight away. Oh how I could listen to the French all day. We are in luck today with only four other people on this tour, giving us plenty of access to Justine to listen and ask questions.
We learned all about the true ‘method champenoise’ and the particular making of both Moët and Chandon and Dom Pérignon.
The iconic Champagne from Moët and Chandon is their Impériale, but they are also well known for their Grand Vintage. The two are easily identifiable with the vintage clearly showing the year on the label. The label has been designed to represent the way in which the year is written in chalk on the bottles down in the cellars.
Moët and Chandon Grand Vintage, unlike many Champagnes are produced using grapes only from a particular year. Vintages are only made if the grapes from that year are deemed to be exceptional. ie Moët and Chandon Grand Vintage is not made every year.
At the present time, Moët and Chandon are releasing 2006 Grand Vintage Champagne to the market.
In amongst the chalky earth underneath the House of Moët and Chandon lie 28km of cellars, over three levels. They are the largest in the Champagne region, so it was another reason that I was pleased to be here. Millions of bottles of their finest, including the Grand Vintage are safely kept down here in a temperature and humidity controlled environment, usually around 12-13 degrees celsius.
Incredibly, bottles of Dom Pérignon, dating from 1973 to 1968 can be found down here. You can imagine the cobwebs on them all!
We also learnt about riddling, the art of turning the Champagne bottles so as to bring all of the sediment together to make it easier to remove. Many of the bottles down in the caves are turned by hand.
Inside the Moët and Chandon House
The grand buildings of the Avenue de Champagne are stunning on the outside, and often even more amazing inside.
I thought they’d never ask! It might only be 12 degrees downstairs, but I’ve worked up a definite thirst. It doesn’t matter what time of the day it is, I will always find time for French Champagne.
I will never be in a position to really be able to tell different labels from each other simply by tasting them. Having said that, Moët and Chandon Impériale does have quite a distinctive taste and it’s quite a bit more yellow in colour than other French Champagnes.
What I can tell, instantly, is that it is French Champagne. I may not know the label, but the number of bubbles in your mouth make it instantly recognisable. There are more bubbles in French Champagne than any other sparkling.
I savour every mouthful of this liquid gold.
The gift shop
This is a mega gift shop and bottle shop with all the varieties of their Champagne on offer, plus a whole lot more.
Moët and Chandon
20 Avenue de Champagne
- Traditional tour (visit and 1 glass of Moët Impérial) €22 per person
- Impériale tour (visit, 1 glass of Moët Impérial and 1 glass of Rosé Impérial) €28 per person
- Grand Vintage tour (Visit and 1 glass of Grand Vintage and 1 glass of Grand Vintage Rosé) €35 per person
- Under 18 years 10€/person (no tasting)
- Under 10 years free (no tasting)
Allow one hour for the tour
Monday – Friday
From February 1st to March 20th
From November 19th to December 31st
From March 21st to November 18th, 2016
Annual Closing : January, 1st to January 31
It is recommended to book online to ensure you have secured your place on the tour. There are four timeslots each day.