Wine log journey

Book the 8.30 Eurostar to Paris, make the five minute walk from the Gard de Nord to the Gard de l’Este, hop on the TGV  and you can be enjoying lunch in Reims overlooking the famous cathedral, now restored to its full glory after many years under scaffolding, and still one of France’s most impressive cathedrals.

But now it’s time to get to work and where better than visiting Roederer, established in 1776 and now one of the few remaining completely independent Champagne Houses. Famous for their Cristal Champagne, created originally at the request of Tsar Alexander II for the exclusive use of the Russian Tsars. Perhaps not as well-known as Bollinger but undoubtedly the producer of some of the best quality Champagnes you will find.

Much of this is accounted for by the fact that they own one of the largest holding of vineyards making them 100% self-sufficient for their vintage styles and two-thirds sufficient for their non-vintages, whereas most houses are required to buy in grapes from independent growers where they exert less control. With vineyards in the most prestigious growing areas and a press house in the heart of the region, Epernay they then make and age the wines in the cellars carved out of the chalk deep below Reims

And so on to the tasting. The benchmark of a Champagne house’s style is its Non Vintage. Roederer’s  Brut Premier is blended from six different vintages from over forty individual plots with up to 10% of reserve wines which are matured in oak casks and contribute great savouriness. Light and lively, featuringapple, toast, ginger and light vanilla flavours. Balanced and with a creamy texture and a lingering butterpastry aftertaste. Very good.Widely available for around £30 per bottle.

Roederer Vintage 2005 only made in exceptional years, but remarkably intense and refined. A nice floral with a touch of golden fruits. A real treat and in many respects a bargain at less than half the price of a bottle of Cristal. £62 at Peatling’s, save £5 when showing this article

Cristal Vintage 2004 the ultimate Cuvee de Prestige. Like the vintage only produced in the finest years and with meticulous care. 20% of the wines are matured in large oak casks, then spends 5 years ageing in the cellars before resting for a further 8 months and only then can we het our hands on it! A touch of hazelnut, hint of spice with a nice broad structure, lovely balance and persistent flavours linger in the mouth. £160 per bottle from independent wines merchants or much more in a hotel, bar or restaurant

Reims has been transformed over recent years so even the walking from the station to the centre of town takes you through wide boulevards and past pretty gardens. The new tram is now complete and all in all makes a very good weekend destination