Field trip to Reims, region of Champagne
Thursday, December 1, 2011

On Tuesday, all the Anglo classes (pastry and cuisine) had a field trip to Reims, a city in the champagne region (northeast) of France. We visited the Taittinger champagne house to learn how champagne is produced and to tour the historic underground cellars.

The cellars are located underneath the original site of the Saint-Nicaise abbey which was completely destroyed during the French Revolution. Monks of the abbey expanded the cellars during the 13th century to store and age the champagne that they produced.

The underground cellars owned by Tattinger were excavated in the 4th century. Originally, they were Gallo-Roman chalk mines dug by slaves.

Millions of bottles of champagne are stored in the underground cellars. Taittinger's Comtes de Champagne, their most superior champagne, ages for 7 years in these cellars.

After aging the wines, the lees (deposits of dead yeast) must be removed. The riddling stage is when the deposits are removed. During this stage, the bottles are placed at a 45° angle and turned once a day to allow the particles to collect near the neck of the bottle. Then, the wine bottles are frozen just at the neck (where the particles have collected). The cap is popped off and the frozen block removed quickly so minimal pressure is lost. During this stage, varying amounts of sugar are added.

And of course, we had to sample their champagne. This one here is a rose.

Reims Cathedral, constructed in the early 13th century. Many Kings of France were crowned.


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