Off to Champagne country! Our comparative tour of Champagne and English sparkling wine has begun, and let the chips fall as they may.

Today’s one winery visit was serendipitous.I had never been to Champagne Météyer before and did not know what to expect. We arrived late morning at the winery located in Trélou sur Marne, in the Vallée de la Marne Champagne district. The other 2 districts are Montagne de Reims and Cote des Blancs.

Météyer was started in 1860 and the current owner, Franck and his lovely wife, Anne, are 5th generation. They are private individual Champagne producers, called ‘récoltant-manipulat’ in France, which basically means they do everything from A to Z. They grow and care for their own grapes, vinify and age them.

They grow all 3 Champagne grapes: Chardonnay and the 2 reds, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. They use enamel vats which have been in use forever.

They separate their grapes by parcel and blend when necessary, and bottle vintage and special plots individually. Malolactic fermentation is topped because they want to emphasize the fruitiness of the grapes.

Although the minimum aging in bottle is 15 months, Météyer lets their wines age for a minimum of 36 months, and sometimes as much as 10 years!

The winery only produces 50,000 bottles, sold mostly in France and currently don’t export to the US, although they would like to. They have 9 different Champagnes in their lineup and we tasted 4 of them, paired with a catered lunch.

As an aperitif, we had the Carte d’Argent which is a blend of all 3 grapes.With 6 years of aging, it had a aroma of toast and brioche and had a full body. Many people thought it was their favorite.

Then with salmon carpaccio we had the Cuvée Marine, 50% Chardonnay and the rest equal parts of both red grapes. It was designed for seafood and was more fruit forward and leaner.

With a ham course we had the Expression Noir, a 100% Pinot Noir. It had a definite fruit expression and went very well with the food.

And with the cheese course we were served Exclusif Zero Dosage, made from 100% Pinot Meunier and aged 10 years. The wine was decanted before being served to give it time to aerate. The wine had a unique taste, vaguely reminiscent of Sherry. It again paired very well with the cheese.

We had a tarte for dessert, with no Champagne, because they don’t think you can pair Champagne with dessert.

It’s a meticulous winery with a great wine museum and enthusiastic owners.I would encourage wine lovers to visit this fine winery.

This was a great example of what small Champagne producers can accomplish, and we look forward to tomorrow’s lineup of similar scale wineries.

After checking in to our Reims hotel,we ended the day with a guided walking tour of old Reims and its breathtaking cathedral where 25 French kings were crowned.

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