Hypnotised by this place, my second stop in the beautiful city of Reims it's its world famous cathedral, where one cannot but feel the extent of faith. When we say that faith moves mountains, here we can see them transformed into a magnificent monument for the glory of God where no human effort is spare to glorify the almighty God.
Gothic, high, reaching the heavens, full of coloured light entering through the thousand glasses. I am sure believers or not this place cannot leave anyone aloof and make you think of that afterlife we have been told and taught. One can imagine the construction of these temples, sometimes through decades, where human lives were devoted to this one task, sometimes not to see them finalised. An ongoing daily purpose, day after day, month after month, year after year. So often we get lost in our daily lives without finding a purpose, becoming mechanical, without being able to see the goal where all our human efforts are channeled towards. It is good to stop and take a step back from our busy lives and try to see where we are heading and devote ourselves to the rewarding task in order to find a sense.
After all these heavenly thoughts, and across the street from the beautiful romanesque-gothic abbey church, the Saint-Remi Basilica, it does not come as a surprise the relation between church and wine, and descending to the Taittinger cellars was a staircase to a different kind of heaven.
Excavated in the typical chalk soils of the Champagne region, some from the Roman times, were later used and expanded by the monks from the Saint Nicaise Abby to keep their wines. Owned nowadays by the Taittinger house, here they produce their most emblematic Comtes de Champagne using the traditional method, including the manual rémouage.
Coming back to earth with a 'dégustation' or their most commercial brut champagne, was not the best way to end the visit. 'C'est la vie!' as the French say and unfortunately, unless I pay well over a hundred Euros to try this particular one, I will have to live with the fact. One day, perhaps.
A second visit to the G.H. Martel & Co. Sometimes we get lost with the big names and the visit to the Martel cave was far more charming and familiar. We got a very nice explanation of the whole champagne process from climate, weather, soils, to the hand harvesting, four pressings, the amount of first run juice used for the champagne wines, the blending, first and second fermentation, etc. The after visit tasting included three types of champagne. First a brut Blanc de Blancs, followed by a very nice 2005 Millésime brut and an extremely tasty, long finish 'Charles de Cazanove Grand Apparat Brut', with biscuity, toasted flavour characteristics. Really good.
After the tasting I stayed around chatting to the lady who had guided our group, to find out that she was also in the middle of a career change and was doing her practices at the Martel house after her training. As Peter would write:"Je ne cherche pas, je trouve". Even though I promised not to buy any wine, I have the first two bottles in the car.
Walking back from the wineries I saw a restaurant called Flo. Since that is a nick name I was given when I visited Istanbul, I decided to go in. Next to me was a German couple and soon after my first course arrived, we started a conversation. Who was going to tell me that in my first day in France, I would end up having an over two hours conversation in German! Christian and Marianne, Nett, Sie kennen zu lernen. Thanks for the very nice chat, for your friendly approach and for the glass of rosé champagne. Ha ha ha... life has indeed a sense of humour.