The best part about visiting Champagne is, obviously, the champagne. There is so much more to the drink than the Moet and Cristal that we see in the USA. Everywhere you go in the region, there are signs outside personal homes advertising vineyards that make champagne. These champagnes are as LEAST as delicious as the famous stuff, and I often prefer them…the only difference is that you can’t try it if you visit Champagne. These champagnes are so inexpensive that it does not make financial sense for the winemakers to export the stuff, so the only way to buy it is to visit the vineyard. They don’t even export to Paris. Of course, if you are only in Champagne for a day, it’s really pretty tough to get to multiple vineyards. That’s why C. Comme is so genius.
There is a vast underground cave with champagnes ranging from extremely cheap ones ($12) to ones in the thousand dollar range. They come in tiny demi bottles all the way up to massive magnums, and from blanc de blancs all the way through to roses. Row after row of champagne that you have never seen before and may never see again.
They also sell these rose biscuits by Fossier, which are generally only found in the Champagne region. These pink biscuits, which resemble airy ladyfingers. Made to be eaten with champagne, they are dipped in the glass, then turn to sweet fizz in your mouth. They aren’t necessarily addictive or delicious on their own, but when you eat them in Champagne, with champagne, they really do add to the experience.
Then, of course,there is the small, pretty tasting room. Decorated with comfortable couches and elegant tables, this is where you are presented with a binder full of champagne choices. Though you could order a bottle, that isn’t way to go. Do not even order by the glass. Order the tasting flight, where you get 6 good size glasses of champagne for about $50. This includes champagne made from different grapes, with different sugar contents (dosage), and from different vineyards. This is champagne from Champagne, for less than $10 a glass. It is an incredible deal. Maybe you won’t like each one, but how will you know what you do like until you know the difference between them all? The servers speak excellent English and are extremely helpful – and, of course, whatever you love you are free to buy downstairs, for considerably less than you would pay for it at home (if you could even find it at home!)
If you feel yourself getting a little tipsy – which you will – order a small plate off the food menu. The menu is a little pricey but not insane, and by that point, you are in Champagne, so you know you are going to be spending some serious money anyway. The foie gras pate is just delicious. Smooth, rich, incredibly delicate tasting. Served with house pickled vegetables and fresh, sweet tomatoes, it is an elegant and totally indulgent accompaniment to this ultimately indulgent day.