Did you know that sparkling wine can only legally be labeled as “Champagne” if it comes from the Champagne region of France? The Champagne region is just a quick train ride from Paris and is made up of 4 regions: Aube, Marne, Haute-Marne, and Ardennes regions. After visiting Mumm Napa, a vineyard that specializes in sparking wine, about this time last year, we have decided we love sparkling wine. Reims is the capital of the Champagne region, so when planning our Paris trip we knew we had to have real “champagne” during our visit. Champagne in “Champagne” was something on my bucket list. Reims has many champagne houses and we decided on G.H. Mumm since their tour times worked better with our train time. We wanted to make it a half day trip instead of all day due to our limited time in Paris. We were first introduced to G.H. Mumm at the Kentucky Derby. They’ve been the official champagne sponsor of the Derby for around a decade. We knew it must be good! I later discovered that G.H. Mumm is related to Mumm Napa.
How To Get There:
There are two trains that go to the Champagne region: Champagne Ardennes TGV and Reims. They are both close to the G.H. Mumm Champagne House, but we chose Reims because it seemed easier. Once we got into Reims, there were many taxis waiting so we took one. We didn’t have wifi for an Uber. Leaving Mumm, we did make sure to get wifi for an Uber, since we didn’t have the ability to call a taxi. I know Mumm would’ve called one for us if we needed them to though.
About Our Tour:
Our visit to Mumm started with a brief video of their history and wine making process. We were then taken into a room that houses their barrels. Our wonderful tour guide explained why they switched to metal barrels and even let us peek inside one. She went over the particular kind of grapes that they use to make the champagne. There were a lot of displays to show what the grapes look like, too. The tour guide was excellent and really educated us on the process, from picking the grape to enjoying a glass of bubbly. Pretty soon we were taken into their underground caves. I was so glad that she recommended keeping my coat on because these caves are really cold. Apparently if you drive into Reims you can see the vineyard where they pick grapes and the big windmill on their property. I will admit it was a bit of a let down that the champagne house wasn’t located on the vineyard.
We learned that in order to be true champagne, it has to ferment for at least 15 months for non-vintage champagne and three years for vintage champagne. Mumm ferments theirs for 30 months. We also learned about what is included in the aging process. In the caves, they have special racks to hold the bottles at an angle, which also helps get rid of the sediment as it ages. They also explained how the bubbles form, which was really interesting. The caves are broken into several rooms, and each bottle is placed in a certain room based on which city the grapes came from. Toward the end of the tour, our guide took us through a museum of Mumm honoring their several hundred years of business. The best part was the tasting at the end. We got to taste 2 different champagnes. I love that the champagnes had the perfect amount of sweetness. Their champagnes were great and I will have to buy it a gain.
Is A Trip To Reims Worth It?
To be honest, if you’re only in Paris for 3 days like we were, you should just stay and enjoy the city. Paris has so much to do, so spending a half-day away is not wise. While the tour was great, we were a bit let down after going to Napa. The champagne houses are not located on the vineyards like we expected after visiting Napa. I would go back to Napa in a heartbeat, but I don’t think I’ll go to Reims again unless I research and find a champagne house with the true vineyard experience. While our experience was far from unpleasant, we would’ve been better off ordering champagne flights at a local Paris restaurant to maximize our time in Paris. My recommendations are to not visit Reims unless you have at least 4-5 full days in Paris first. I much more enjoyed the French countryside and wine tasting in the Burgundy region when I did a study abroad trip in college.
Have you been to Reims? P.S. I did’t get as many pictures as I wanted, since the caves were so dark. They were not turning out.