Shopping for champagne

- Champagne trail and champagne tasting

Just under an hour’s drive away is the most famous champagne production are in the world. Indeed, just ten kilometres away in Sainte Ménehould is a statue of Dom Pérignon the French Bénédictine monk who is credited with the invention of sparking champagne. There are many places where you can taste champagne from major producers to small family business. You will certainly be able to buy good champagne cheaper than at home. The town at the centre of the Champagne Trail is Epernay where you can tour the vineyards and the cellars.
The Champagne Region
The most famous champagne producing area is just under one hours drive from us along the motorway towards Reims. Discovering champagne production and tasting the various types at the end of a visit to a cave is both easy and fascinating, but the experience is best when you can buy some bottles or cases to take home. The producers are extremely generous with their samples, but love nothing more than you to buy from them at the end of the visit. The shops vary from the sophisticated back-lit displays found in the major producers such as Moët et Chandon to the simple rustic shelves of the small family run business.
Cost Savings
The largest saving, compared to buying champagne in the UK, is the duty – which is based on volume – and British VAT, which is 20% of the retail value including the duty. So you can expect to save at least £3 a bottle which is definitely worthwhile if you are catering for a large party such as a wedding. Careful looking around the small producers can lead to some good bargains as their output is too small to reach French supermarkets, let alone cross the channel. The more expensive the wine you buy, the better quality you are getting for your money as the duty is a fixed figure. Sparkling wine attracts a higher rate of UK duty than still wine, so you’re saving even more on champagne.
The Cellars and Vineyards.
In particular, the sight of the vineyards along the Champagne Trail, seeing the vines carefully nurtured, sampling various Brut (the dryest), Rosé, Demi-Sec, Doux (sweet) etc. and then selecting your favourite to take home adds tremendously to the pleasure you will get when finally drinking it. If your preference is a guided tour in English then head for a major brand in Epernay or Reims. If your French is ok then you’ll enjoy the friendliness and welcome of the smaller companies. In any case we can direct you to the best places.

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