Australians really like champagne, in fact we drink buckets of it despite being challenged by the popularity of Prosecco. Where better to start Uncorked’s 2015 France Wine tour this May than in Reims, the largest city in Champagne. This historic place complete with a myriad of underground “crayeres” or cellars dug into the chalk, is the site of the wonderful Reims Cathedral which once crowned French kings during the Middle Ages.

Nowhere has the growth of contemporary French wines been greater, as small grower brands packed full of innovation both challenged and shaken the older conservative house styles of the big negociants. Our grower visit is to Charles and Emmanuel Fourny of Veuve-Fourny, right down the bottom of the Cotes des Blancs in the quaint little village of Vertus.

Now armed with greater motivation and indeed resources, some modern-thinking brands are to host our two tour groups on this hilly land of chalk soil and cold climate. Thank goodness we visit in spring when the vines are booming in greenery and spring vegetables grace our collective dining tables.

Cellar Veuve-Fourny

Cellar Veuve-Fourny

Tastings include below ground, in cellars and in remote vineyard press houses to give Australians a slice of Champenois life, at all times hosted by this author. We will taste the latest: the natural, single vineyard, oak-aged, large blends, single grape and more.

Just this month it has been revealed that Australians are the sixth largest drinkers of champagne outside France (6.5 million bottles). More than Italy (but they love their Prosecco, and for posher occasions, Franciacorta)! Uncorked (a previous Champagne Award winner) absolutely delights in taking Australians to this source of the greatest bubbles one can ever drink. Think non-vintage, vintage, rose, signature, specialty, light foods, poached dishes (veal sausages like boudin), elegant flavours, vibrant acidity, balance, poise, and memorable tastes set around all those tiny bubbles.

The tour then moves on to Burgundy.