We propose a toast to Marne, where grapes are grown and both red and white wines flow! From coq au vin de Bouzy to chocolate liqueurs, this departement’s delicacies are inextricably linked to the fruit of its vines.
Of all the vineyards in France, the champagne vineyards are closest to the UK and 75% of those are in Marne. Most are located in the west, in a winegrowing area composed of three parts: the Montagne de Reims, the Vallée de la Marne and the Côte des Blancs. There are three types of grape (cépages) used to make champagne: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Each contributing something different to its overall character.
The world’s most famous wine is intimately linked with the history of this region. Even in the Middle Ages, the most refined gourmets wanted nothing else on the table. At the same time, champagne started out on its international career. What makes it stand out is its particular character – its ability to foam.
A tasting time
A champagne tasting calls upon most of our senses: sight, sound, smell and, of course, taste. Champagne Claude Corbon in Avize, the Institut International des Vins de Champagne in Aÿ, and La Maison de Telmont in Damery, run local workshops such as ‘24 Hours in the Vines’ and can even help you match your wine with food. The winemakers you will meet on your visits are passionate about what they do and on hand to provide an introduction to how best to enjoy a flute or two.
There are plenty of sweet and savoury treats from Marne that marry well with champagne, so you can celebrate every occasion with a drop of the good stuff! The famous pink biscuits of Reims are usually enjoyed dipped in champagne. Other specialities from the Fossier biscuiterie include: crispy meringue croquignoles, macarons and four types of gingerbread (traditional, mellow, honey and pepper – delicious with foie gras). Foodies can always drop into the Fossier Cours Langlet shop in the centre of Reims for a little taster. Chefs in the Marne like to experiment with Fossier biscuits and use them in a variety of different ways, from vacherins to millefeuilles, tiramisu to charlottes.
Keeping you sweet
Chocolatiers in Marne are also waiting to welcome you. La Petite Friande in Reims, for example, has created a chocolate champagne bubble filled with eau de vie made from champagne. It also sells chocolate champagne corks filled with Marc de Champagne. La Chocolaterie Deléans has something else to offer – tablettes de chocolats aux biscuits roses or chocolate bars with pink biscuit bits.
Food from the Champagne region owes much to its wine. Amongst the numerous specialities are: fricassée d’escargots de Champagne et jambon de Reims au ratafia en croute d’herbes (local ham and local snails cooked in a champagne liqueur), coq au vin de Bouzy, vin rouge au parfum de violette (violet scented wine), filet de brochet cuit au vin blanc à la rémoise (pike in a white wine sauce) and sabayon au champagne. For the ultimate gastronomic experience, book a table at one of the très chic hotels around… Les Crayères in Reims is hard to beat.