SO IT GROWS
There's no shortage of glilz in Epernay, and tourist there are as inundated by it as they are by sparkling wine. Those seeking an in-depth understanding of champagne may quickly tire of the self-promotion of the big houses. Consider instead a tour with champagne producer Domi Moreau. This family-run operation specializes in educating travellers about the champagne region's history, its various methods of production, and the art of appreciating its finished product.
Friendly Nathalie Domi, who usually leads the tours, takes visitors on a van ride through the countryside, venturing on to unpaved roads that cut straight through the vines. Nathalie then shows visitors her family's vineyard, where she demonstrates the tools used to tend the grapes. The tools concludes in her family's cave, where her husband Max often performs a dégorgement by hand (rather than by machine, as at the big houses) and a corking. There is, of course, a tasting at the end. While Domi Moreau champagne may not be served at the Ritz, it's quite good, and, at €11.80 - 12.20 per bottle, amazingly affordable.
Pickup at the tourist office, 7 av. De champagne (06 30 35 51 07, after 7pm 03 26 59 45 85 ;
www.champagne-domimoreau.com) Tours in English and French M-Tu and Th-Su 9:30am. Closed last 2 weeks of Aug. Reserve ahead.