Champagne (part 2)

Back at ‘the ranch’, the wine is stored in huge tanks until it is blended and bottled and put into crates. The bottles are capped with a beer-bottle type lid. They are  slowly turned by machine to collect the ‘debris’ until they are upside down.

The non-standard bottles which they use for superior grade champagne have to be turned by hand.

Removing the ‘waste’ is done by a peripatetic firm. They freeze the neck so that the unwanted lees are ‘blown out’ and after adding liqueur to produce brut or demi-sec the bottles are capped with traditional champagne corks.

Labelling is done by a strange looking machine that puts on the ‘hat’ and ‘etiquette’. However, they must also add a top to each bottle to prove that tax has been paid before they can sell it. Apparently, if you are stopped by the customs or police and you have ‘untaxed wine’ in your car you are liable for a heavy fine and so is the producer who sold – or gave it to you.

The champagne that we were offered for a tasting was a different matter.

It had no label whatsover.                        

It remined me of the champagne we drank at a gite years ago. The owner explained that provided we consumed it on the premises we could buy it for 8 euros a bottle but if we wanted to take it away it would have to be properly labelled and would cost 11 euros.

We bought a couple of cases and Daniel’s sister-in-law kindly offered us another bottle as a present. He loaded up his boot with more cases as he runs a (perfectly legal) depot du vin, which is where we normally buy our champagne.

The journey home was most enjoyable despite meeting the rush hour traffic from Reims.

Autumn colours were beginning to appear on the trees and were enhanced by the sunshine in  a pale blue cloudless sky.

Daniel kindly pulled off the motorway so that we could say hello to Woinic and take a photo. The giant boar already looks a bit rusty and isn’t exactly attractive but we were not alone in paying a visit.


P.S. According to today’s paper (30th September) the growers are delighted with this years’s harvest. The quantity may not be exceptional but the quality compares well with the best vintages of the past. They will be able to check the flavours when they taste the first results in a few weeks time.


7 Responses to “Champagne (part 2)”

  1. Susie Vereker Says:

    Interesting stuff and what a bargain.

  2. BearNaked Says:

    I love getting bargains, especially the kind I can drink.
    That is one ugly boar by the way.

    Bear((( )))

  3. guyana gyal Says:

    Untaxed wine! Now I’ve heard it all 🙂

  4. canisfamiliaris Says:

    The giant boar is not as elegant as ‘The Angel of the North’ … but is as rusty!!


  5. Readerwil Says:

    Impressive boar! I wouldn’t like to meet him! Thanks for your visit.

  6. Pat Says:

    You were really paying attention. Well done! I have been watching a programme about a Brit making wine in the Pyrenees according to the moon cycles or some such thing. the locals think he’s nuts but it works apparently.

  7. sablonneuse Says:

    Susie, Bear and G-G: it certainly seems a good idea to buy from small producers. I’ve never tasted a Dom Perignon at three or four hundred euros a bottle but I can’t believe it’s that much better than a bottle of ‘tradition’ at 11 euros 70!

    Derek and Readerwill: Woinic is a controversial emblem for the Ardennes. Many people think the 600,000 euros could have been better spent but others are very proud of it.

    Pat: We’ve been watching that wine programme too. Seems he had boar problems as well!

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