Apr 12th, 2017, 10:30 AM

Moët Babe

By Leah Levine
Image Credit: Flickr/Shunichi kouroki
An inside look into the Moët et Chandon caves in Epernay, France.

Over Spring Break, I traveled to the outskirts of Paris with my mama to understand, imbibe and gasp at champagne. According to the champagne season calendar, we were a little early as theideal time is April to September. After trying to book a tour at Veuve Clicquot to no avail, I signed up for an English speaking tour at Moët & Chandon in Epernay, free of charge. I highly suggest booking a reservation in advance because when speaking to most of the people on our tour, they had planned this months in advance rather than my mom and I (a mere 48 hours beforehand.)

We decided to spend a night there to avoid a rush, but we failed to find out until we reached Epernay after 4 hours of transit, that there is a direct train from Gare de l'Est to Epernay via SNCF. Once you arrive at the Epernay train station, roughly 140 kilometers outside of Paris, use the only exit and the Moët & Chandon headquarters is no more than a 10 minute walk.

Once you make a small turn onto the Avenue de Champagne you are greeted by the over arching black gates of the sprawling mansions that call themselves, the home of Moët et Chandon and Dom Perignon. 

Image Credit: Leah Levine

As you enter the facilities you are greeted and ushered into the pre-tasting/waiting rooms, where you pay for your tour and await your guide. Best part, the tour here is half the price of Veuve Clicquot tour, only 24 euros for the champagne caves along with a tasting of one glass of their classic champagne.

Onto what you really want to know, how do they make this stuff and why is it so expensive? (Ranging from 30-1000 euros).

The tour begins with a brief history about the family and how they gained their celebratory success for Champagne. Due to the son of the founder, Claude Moët and his stellar public relations tactics, he garnered world leaders to Epernay to try his delicious beverage, even including Napoleon Bonaparte. The company owns over 1300 acres of land in the Epernay region and keeps all the Champagne chilled at a precise 11 degrees Celsius for fermentation. 

Down in the three-storied caves starting at 15 meters below ground, rows and rows of bottles are stacked, with a secret coding system to devise the year they were stored. Riddlers come thru and turn bottles to allow the yeast to eat the sugar, which creates that subtly sweet zest of Moët when it licks your tongue. Each bottle of Champagne is aged for three years and all vintage bottles are aged for seven years—an indicator of why bottles can become so pricey!

Image Credit: Flickr/giulio nepi

And of course, as all modern tours do in our capitalist era: you are lead up the stairs into the divine gift shop, stocked with bottles of Champagne, hats, aprons and every size of Champagne bottle for sale. Get that magnum on! 

Image Credit: Leah Levine

To end your experience, you finish in the tasting room next to the grotto-like garden. Each glass is poured by a skilled member of the Moët & Chandon armada, along with a brief description of taste and history. 

A perfect day trip, that is affordable and educational, with a little bit of bubbly. Santé!

Image Credit: Flickr/AI404