Activities - Champagne house



The House of G.H. Martel
Tours of the “Crayères” cellars
Discover an ancestral expertis

While preserving its intimate, family atmosphere, the House is now opening its beautiful medieval chalk cellars, hollowed out between the 4th and 15th Centuries, its Champagne Eco-museum and 18th Century buildings to the public.



Mercier Epernay. The most popular cellar tour of all (Mercier is the best selling Champagne in France). Just turn up during office hours (closed 11.30-2 for lunch), and pay the admission fee of around FF40. Admire the world's biggest barrel built in 1889 - the visitor centre was built around it! There is a short audio-visual presentation and then you descend via a lift 30m into the cellars. Then board a laser-guided train for your tour of the 18km long galleries, which were once the scene of a car rally! Several elaborate bas-relief carvings. A Champagne tasting follows in the souvenir shop.



Dom Pérignon was the 17th century Benedictine monk who has gone down in history as the person who "invented" Champagne. His name was originally registered by Eugène Mercier. He sold the brand name to Moët & Chandon, which used it as the name for its prestige cuvée, which was first released in 1937.

The Abbey of Hautvillers was born in the 7th century of a dream that came to Saint Nivard. Ten centuries later, Dom Pierre Pérignon gave this heritage its most dazzling interpretation. The extraordinary quality of the wine he devised and produced in the secrecy and religious fervour of the Abbey makes him the spiritual father of champagne and one of the greatest visionaries of modern wine-making.
The Abbey of Hautvillers is to this day the custodian of the memory of the wine, touchstone of its past as of the vintages still to come, timeless guardian of the spirit of Dom Pérignon: home of a unique inspiration.

Not content with the painstaking selection of only Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, and over and above the exclusive choice of plots offering the very best soils and perfect exposure, Dom Pérignon categorically insists on choosing only the best harvests and thereafter, on a long, slow ageing of the wine on its lees. Harvests that lack the potential to fully express the elusive Dom Pérignon style, will be left out.

Each vintage offers thus a new aspect of Dom Pérignon, reflecting an assemblage that is a unique act of creation for the wine maker Richard Geoffroy. In its constant quest for the ultimate balance between Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the Dom Pérignon style traces, vintage after vintage, a complex structure made up of aroma and sensations, silky smooth, light as air and full of sensuality.



Mumm today

The Mumm brothers, Jacobus, Gottlieb and Philipp, who were from a rich family of German wine merchants and who also owned vineyards in the Rhine valley, arrived in Reims in 1827. Along with their business partner Friedrich Giesler, they set up P.A. Mumm et Cie., the initials standing for the forenames of their father, Peter Arnold Mumm.

Georges Hermann Mumm, a descendant of the founders, took over the company in 1853. It became and has remained to this day G.H. MUMM et Cie. The first street address of the Maison Mumm was very appropriate: 14 Rue de la Grosse Bouteille, now Rue de Mars

Mumm quickly established its reputation thanks to its style and quality.
The emblem of Mumm was the famous Cordon Rouge. Introduced in 1875, the Mumm emblem echoes the red ribbon of the Légion d'Honneur,
In 1881 Cordon Rouge became the first champagne to arrive in the USA, inaugurating an export-oriented sales policy that has continued successfully ever since.

In 1882, Mumm began to build up its own vineyard estates to ensure a constant supply of the best grapes from the best soils. The first purchases were of sixty hectares (148 acres) in the Côte des Blancs, the commune of Cramant and at Avize. Mumm then installed seven traditional wooden wine presses in their vineyards. They are still in use today to ensure the continued quality of production.

As early as 1890, Mumm was enjoyed in all the royal courts of Europe.
The courts of Austria-Hungary, Belgium, the Netherlands, Prussia, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and England, not to mention the Grand Dukes of Oldenburg and Hesse-Darmstadt, all appear in the Mumm accounts books of the 1890s.

In 1902 Mumm was the leading Champagne house, selling 3 million bottles, of which one million went to the USA. In 1955, G.H. Mumm & Cie took on a world-wide dimension with the arrival of the Canadian group Seagram. In 1999, Seagram sold Mumm to the American company Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst. Then, the English group Allied Domecq (world n°2 in wines and spirits) purchased Mumm, thereby adding a prestigious house to the major brands they already owned.

Today Champagne Mumm is present in over 100 countries. 40% of its production is sold in France, and 60% in export markets. Its energetic marketing strategy resulted in sales of close on 8 million bottles around the world during 2000.





Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin Reims. By appointment only. Very stylish waiting room and salle de degustation. Cross the road and go to a small door in the hillside and down to the capacious cellars containing around 14 million bottles. Free tour and glass of champagne





Louis Roederer is one of the largest remaining independent Champagne Houses, owned by the same family since it was founded in 1776




In 1734, Jacques Fourneaux, a merchant of champagne wines, established the company that would some day become Taittinger.

In that early part of the XVIIIth century, the Benedictine abbeys of Hautvillers, Pierry, Verzy, and Saint-Nicaise in Reims, owned the best vineyards in the Champagne region. They cultivated the vines and pressed the harvest to produce the first sparkling wines which they either sold themselves, or through agents in Epernay or Reims.

Jacques Fourneaux therefore joined the great adventure of the champagne trade...cautiously at first.



Moet et Chandon
Moet et Chandon can trace its history back to 1743 when it was established in Epernay by Claude Moet, a wine trader descended from an old family resident in the Champagne region since the 14th century. In the company's archives can be seen an invoice of 1743 when Moet shipped Champagne to Paris for t he first time. The real rise of Champagne was in the reign of Louis XV and became a favorite for romantic suppers for the king and his favorites, including Madame de Pompadour. Moet et Chandon expanded and its Champagne was shipped to new markets: From 1750 to England, then Germany, Spain, Russia, America, Poland, and Bohemia in 1791

In 1794 Claude Moet bought the walls and the vineyards of the former Abbey of Hautvillers, the same Abbey where Dom Perignon founded the method for producing Champagne. Hautvillers is a charming flower-filled wine village with sweeping views of the Marne River valley, and the Abbey has now been converted into a museum describing the process of making Champagne.




Ruinart Reims. By appointment only. Well worth the trouble of obtaining an appointment. These cellars are set in Gallo-Roman chalk pits, and the bas-reliefs carved into the walls are designated a French national monument. Paid admission, including a degustation of five wines for a bargain FF100



The Great Brands & Champagne Houses