When we visited Epernay for a couple of days and the guided tour of Möet et Chandon was brilliant. They start the tour by explaining the history of how the champagne house was formed in 1743 in Epernay and how it attracted worldwide notoriety – apparently Napoleon I visited 5 times! They then take you down into the vast 28km of cellars that took 200 years to construct. Its cold down there as they need to keep the champagne between 10-12° all year round – so wrap up warm!
They explained the production process of champagne, all the way through from grape to glass. The process starts with alcoholic fermentation to turn the grape juice into alcohol. If they want a red wine (in order to make a rosé champagne), they add the grape skin back in during this process. Then there’s the in-bottle fermentation to turn the wine into champagne, a process that normally takes 15 months but Möet et Chandon prefer to double this time (a vintage takes 3 years). Next is the daily rotation of each bottle to separate the yeast sediment that has collected, a process that takes about 4-6 weeks. Incredibly, 10 workers will rotate between 35,000 and 52,000 bottles per day! Finally the sediment is removed by positioning all the bottles upright, forcing an air bubble up and when the lid is removed, the sediment shoots out. They lose quite a lot of champagne along the way!
Finally we got to taste their most popular bottle, the Möet Imperial, which sells one bottle every second around the world! It tasted even better standing in the spot where it has been produced for hundreds of years! One tip – make sure you book the tour in advance as you usually can’t walk in. They run tours in French and English for about €21 including a glass of champagne or €28 for two glasses).
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