Random notes on a day out in Champagne

…or when Tarlant rimes with talent.

*

Finally! After and eventful train journey Vicky and I alight at Epernay, capital of the whole-wide-Champagne-world. As we climb up the stairs up to the outside world, the first -blinding- sight is that of Mélanie’s smile yellow wellies. We pile up in her car and drive away, very excited at the prospect of the day.

*

Oeilly is rainy but the soft hills are painted in fiery shaded tones and the sight of he nearby river Marne is soothing. We leisurely drive to the abbey of Hautvillier to pay our respects to Dom Perignon and wish it was not too damp to light a thankful candle. After all, he’s the one behind the holy and ravishing foam and bubbles in every blissful sip of champagne.

*

We’re now in the Tarlant family’s cellar and the smell of maturing wine is intoxicating. The taste of the still clouded liquid is a bit hard to take before coffee or breakfast but we’re warriors. We act regal as we gargle the precious juice before aiming painfully at the gutter for spitting.

*

The smooth and rough feel of the wooden barrels under my hands is  very sensual and almost addictive; I wish I could take one home but Benoît points out the logistical difficulties of the operation and I have to reluctantly give up the idea.

*

We taste and spit and taste and spit again. Morning is gone, so is the rain over our head: we’ve got sun sparkling in our glasses. There’s liquor, popping noises and laughter.

Benoît talks us through (too) many bottles and their stories. I jolt down in my notebook:

“The champagne-maker is an artist assembling an incredible patchwork of vintages, varietals and centuries of history. Emotions and motions of the vines, memories of a year in a bottle of ‘millésimé’. I feel like there are so many possibilities in champagne making and yet the one in my glass is so very perfect. No wonder the family’s been in here for generations…. “

*

We drive past Epernay’s famous Champagnes avenue to the train station. I read once that some drink champagne daily. I wish it was me.

 

A BIG thank you to the Tarlant family for their warm welcome