If you’re staying in Reims, it’s easy to visit a few of the big-name Champagne producers found around the outskirts, like Pommery or Taittinger. But if you want to discover some of the more unusual small producers and taste some Champagnes which you can’t get at home – or even some that you can’t buy anywhere else apart from at the cellar door – then you need to get out of the city and explore the Champagne region’s countryside.
I’ve been on a few winery tours and they usually follow the same format – a tour of the cellars, a talk about how the wine is made and a tasting – so was expecting more of the same at Pommery Champagne house. But what we got was altogether more surreal. It started off normally, with a descent down 116 lamp-lit stairs into the cellars as we were taken through tall chalk caves carved by Roman slaves. But as well as stacks of bottles, they were also filled with modern art installations – from video and sculpture to light and sound exhibits – which change every few months.