After four-plus days in Burgundy, it was time to continue our wine education and drive north to Champagne, specifically the town of Verzy, where we planned to stay with Yvonne and Jiles Halling. Yvonne is the operator of the popular B&B Les Molyneaux, and her husband, Jiles, a former executive with Moet & Chandon, is now a consultant to the local wine industry. We arrived in Verzy in the evening, just in time for dinner but not much else. The next day, a Sunday, Jiles introduced us to the region, helping us to better understand Champagne as we learned the landscape and enjoyed some of the local wares. His friendly tutorial conveyed far more learning than any book or tasting experience I’ve encountered. We even had the chance to visit the church where the great Dom Perignon is buried. Without rising to hyperbole, I can easily say it was an epiphanic day in many ways.
The next day we headed west about an hour to the town of Chateau Thierry, where we had an appointment at Champagne Pannier, a growers’ cooperative and the largest house in the Western Marne. There we enjoyed a tour of their 12th century cellars and a generous private tasting of their finest vintage and NV bottlings. We wish we had had several more days to learn about Champagne, but we had a plane to catch to Australia.