Falling In Love with Champagne: My First Visit to a Wine region

This month the #winophiles traveled to Champagne for unexpected pleasures tour. thanks to Gwendolyn of Wine Predator. Her preview post is here.  Her second post about the area is here  and so resonated with me when thinking about experiences in the Champagne region. Champagne was the first wine region that I visited on a quest to try the wines. I was 20 and living in Dijon. Of course Dijon is located in Burgundy and I spent an amazing year trying wonderful wines from Burgundy but it was the visit to Champagne where I became enthralled with all the processes of making wine and sparkling wine.


Like Gwendolyn, I marveled at the Cathedral in Reims and the beautiful of Epernay. I don’t remember much about the food as it was a long time ago but I do remember the feeling of excitement visiting the Dom Perignon house and learning about how Pierre Pérignon discovered how to make Champagne at the Abbey de Hautvillers in the 1600s. Living in France at the time during my junior year abroad was wonderful, discovering Champagne and visiting the wineries began a new phase of my life. Until this chat I had largely forgotten parts of the experience. With the world at a stand still these past months or somewhat of a stand still depending on what you do, where you are and your family structure, its been a time of virtual travel and wine memories.These were some of my first. I brought a bottle home for my parents I remember and I was so proud to know about this prestigious wine and to be able to offer them a bottle. I loved the green case it came in and saved it for many years. Knowing me, I probably still have it somewhere.

I don’t drink Dom Perignon very often but I did have the chance in December at the Prestige Cuvée tasting organized by the Wine Media Guild’s Champagne expert Ed McCarthy. One of the most memorable tastings I have attended in my 13 year wine career in New York City. The room was dark so my photos are dark but maybe it was all the Champagne I taste I mean drank that day.  I have no recollect of walking around with a spit cup.

We tasted through the below line up of Prestige Cuvées and one was more ethereal than the next. I will be writing up my notes on this memorable event as well.

Another memorable experience in my life had to do with Champagne, this time a tasting in New York City and Christian Pol Roger. It was in a local wine shop and Christian Pol Roger was pouring his wines. In addition to being impressed with him and his wines and the Cuvée Winston Churchill, I met some people at the tasting which led to my first job in wine. Also a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the former dominates and this is a more structured and powerful wine than the previous one I mentioned.

Champagne Pol Roger created their Prestige Cuvée in homage to Sir Winston Churchill mindful of the qualities that he sought in his champagne : robustness, a full-bodied character and relative maturity.


Amidst such bounty it would be hard to mention just one but there was one I didn’t know and kept going back to, the Alfred Gratien Cuvée Paradis. The house style has been created by four generations of the Jaeger family. Nicholas Jaeger is the cellar master today and like his father before him, he is the guardian of the house. A couple of things that differentiated this wine is the barrel ferment and the lack of malo. They block it to preserve acidity. The wine is so well knitted together, it just sang out the glass, a marvelous harmony of aromas and flavors.

Please join our twitter chat on Saturday 6/20/20 by following the hashtag #Winophiles.  We’ll be live at 11am EST!

Find more unexpected pleasures from these ten #Winophiles:

  • From Martin: “Champagne Drappier’s Blanc de Quatre Blancs; A Taste of Champagne’s White Heirloom Grape Varieties” www.enofylzwineblog.com aka @martindredmond
  • From Cam: “Pour un Pique-Nique Sur le Patio: Roasted Citrus Tart + Jacquart Brut Mosaique” on Culinary Adventures with Camilla  https://culinary-adventures-with-cam.blogspot.com/ aka @Culinary_Cam
  • From Cindy: “A Stroke of Serendipity – Discovering Champagne Louis Brochet Brut 1er Cru in London” aka @GrapeExp_Cindy on grape-experiences.com
  • From Nicole: “A Super Fancy Pants Grilled Cheese Pairing: Salmon Caviar Croque-Monsieur with Charles Dufour Bulles de Comptoir 6 La Benjamine 2.0 Champagne” onSommsTable.com
  • From Robin: “Champagne & BBQ, Chartogne-Taillet meets Rollin’ Smoke” aka @CrushGrapeChron at https://www.crushedgrapechronicles.com/
  • From Terry: “Champagne and Sticky Asian Chicken Thighs: Whoa!” on Our Good Life Www.terristeffes.com
  • From Jeff: “The Polar Opposite of House Style at Champagne Coessens” on “Food Wine Click!” https://foodwineclick.com/  aka @Foodwineclick
  • From Katrina: “Seven is a Charm with Laherte Freres Les 7 Champagne” on https://thecorkscrewconcierge.com/ aka @corksconcierge
  • From Sue and I: “10 of Champagne’s Unexpected Pleasures: 24 Hours in and around Reims, France for #Winophiles” and “Tasting Biodynamic Champagne with Philippe Lancelot” onwinepredator.com aka @artpredator
  • and I wrote  “Falling In Love with Champagne: My First Visit to a Wine region” on avvinare

As you can see, there’s a lot more to Champagne than sparkling wine!


  1. It’s a small world! My first (and so far only) media trip was to Champagne…with Ed and his wife! It was Ed who kind of turned me on to the wonders of mature champagne. I kind of knew, but he really drove home the point and his love for mature champagne is contagious!

    • Martin-
      Ed is the Champagne king and his depth of knowledge is such a pleasure to behold I can only imagine what the trip with him must have been like. He’s love and his love for those older Champagnes is, as you say, infectious.
      Cheers to you and thanks for reading,

  2. Thanks for sharing you memories. I’ve never been to Champagne but would so love to go someday!

    • Thank you Nicole for reading, It was a great trip. I was super young but it was incredible and i remember the excitement of the time. I am sure you will get there sooner rather than later.

  3. Ahhh, to be 20 and studying in France! What a great ever continuing story. The Alfred Gratien sounds delicious. Cheers to many more glasses of Champagne and continuing to taste and explore!

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