REIMS

PA RT 2 : DAY 3, LUNCH

Canada’s 100 Best - - Travel -

A har­row­ing drive through tor­ren­tial rains on the A4 from Paris had us run­ning late, wet and thirsty. We hardly had time for drop­ping off my daugh­ter at her new cam­pus—never mind lunch—if we were to make Louis Roed­erer in time for the 2 p.m. tour I had ar­ranged from Toronto. No mat­ter. The fizz was what brought us here, and liq­uid gold would be sus­te­nance enough.

But be­fore quench­ing our thirst, a tour. This be­gan as I like them best—with some­thing I did not pre­vi­ously know. In this in­stance, the news was re­vealed in the Roed­erer en­trance cor­ri­dor, in an atrium with a domed ceil­ing stud­ded with cir­cles of light that looked to me an aw­ful lot like those sig­na­ture thick bases of Cristal bot­tles, and where a bust of Tsar Alexan­der II stood on a pedestal. “Cristal was cre­ated for the Tsar in 1876,” ex­plained our gra­cious and charm­ing host, Roed­erer hos­pi­tal­ity man­ager Eve-Claire Mathieu. In­deed, Cristal’s unique sig­na­ture bot­tle—punt-free, and clear—was cre­ated out of Tsarist con­sid­er­a­tions (specif­i­cally, to fa­cil­i­tate spot­ting poi­son in a bot­tle).“We use the same for­mula to­day.” Well, same old-vine chardon­nay and pinot nor from the same chalky soils in Roed­erer’s own vine­yards—but for­tu­nately, with a whole lot less su­gar added than what Rus­sians favoured back in the Tsar’s day. From there, on­wards, down a floor to see the huge metal vats and the bot­tling fa­cil­ity, and down another level, into more his­toric ter­ri­tory, where the chalky walls were dark­ened with black mould, and my mother kept loi­ter­ing sus­pi­ciously by a wall against which 34,668 bot­tles of cham­pers were stacked with­out racks, neck to neck, floor to ceil­ing. Next, down another level, into the cel­lars, where rows of full rid­dling racks were lined up as far as one could see, re­ced­ing un­re­lent­ingly into the dis­tant dark­ness, as if in a dream. Then, at last, we had time for tast­ing. Do Roed­erer Brut Pre­mier and Rosé Vin­tage and Cristal taste bet­ter now that I’ve been there and can match place to taste? Maybe. But they tasted pretty damn good be­fore, too...*

Louis Roed­erer Cham­pagne, 21 boule­vard Lundy, 51100 Reims, louis-roed­erer.com

* Click here for Ja­cob Rich­ler’s tast­ing notes from the Roed­erer cel­lars.

TSAR NICHOLAS II, WHO SPENT

MORE ON CRISTAL THAN OLI­GARCHS AND HIP-HOP STARS

COM­BINED

THE CEL­LARS AT ROED­ERER EVE-CLAIRE MATHIEU EX­PLAINS DISGORGEMENT

34,668 BOT­TLES OF ROED­ERER

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