Looking for a memorable Christmas gift for that special person in your life? Why not whisk them off to France for a private tour of Champagne’s vineyards?
Younger generations may have gained a reputation for their tendency to prioritise experiences over material goods, but now they appear to have science on their side. A recent study by Cornell University found that the satisfaction people get from new possessions is fleeting, while memories of things they’ve enjoyed doing are the best path towards happiness.
Thanks to Clos19 – the lifestyle platform that provides access to the champagnes, wines and spirits belonging to LVMH, champagne enthusiasts can now take part in unique, behind-the-scenes experiences in the region’s historic cellars and breathtaking vineyards. Clos19’s three-day Champagne immersion lets you explore Ruinart and Veuve Clicquot’s Unesco World Heritage cellars, taste Moët & Chandon vintages in the same salon visited by the Emperor Napoleon and discover the vineyards at first hand.
This one-of-a-kind experience starts, of course, with a champagne welcome in the opulent atmosphere of the five-star Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa in Champillon – with an infinity pool that overlooks the vineyards. Guests can opt to unwind with a massage at the hotel spa or rent an electric bicycle to explore the vineyards and the region’s natural beauty. In the evening, it would be impossible to resist the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, The Royal, where chef Jean-Denis Rieubland creates his signature dishes using vegetables grown locally by staff, meat delivered daily by farmers from the region and honey harvested on the hotel grounds.
The next day, the Champagne discovery begins in earnest. Transported in a chauffeur-driven car and accompanied by a Clos19 host, your first stop will be Ruinart, the oldest established champagne house, founded in 1729. Your host will take you on a personal tour through the majestic crayères, or chalk cellars, classified as a historical monument by Unesco. Ruinart’s cellars are among the largest in the region and date back to Roman times. Extending 38m below the ground and 8km long, the cellars are kept at a constant 11ºC. They also impart the characteristic Ruinart taste, which guests can later savour in the privacy of an exclusive salon.
After lunch, it’s time to head to Veuve Clicquot – the house born out of the pioneering spirit of Madame Clicquot. Known as the Grande Dame of Champagne, she invented the first-known vintage champagne in 1810 and the very first blend of rosé champagne, along with other techniques still used today.
Once the visit to the house’s cathedral-like cellars draws to a close, the Veuve Cliquot guide will take you through a tasting of vintages, rosés and perhaps a Grande Dame vintage, a rare and remarkable champagne first created in homage to Madame Cliquot in 1972 to mark the bicentennial of the maison.
On the last day, your private guide will escort you to Épernay to explore the sprawling historic cellars of Moët & Chandon for a unique chance to learn about the celebrated house’s 270 years of champagne production. Guests will discover the unique characters of different vintages through a vertical tasting in the same salon that Jean-Rémy Moët, the grandson of founder Claude Moët, entertained Emperor Napoleon. It’s not by coincidence that Moët & Chandon’s signature cuvée is named Impérial, after all.
If you wish to amplify your journey through these iconic champagne houses with additional experiences and elements, then Clos19 can, of course, arrange. Those with a leaning towards history can be treated to a private tour of Reims Cathedral, the gothic masterpiece that played a central role in France’s history for over 800 years as the venue for the coronations of 25 sovereigns. They can also discover the nearby Palais du Tau, a Unesco-listed former archbishops’ palace.
Gourmets have the option to reserve a table at one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants in the region – the Champagne capital of Reims alone boasts five. Alternatively, they can explore the many gastronomic bistros to sample local delicacies. Or perhaps you could head back to the Royal Champagne and indulge in a leisurely lunch at the Brasserie Le Bellevue – French for “beautiful view” – while gazing out over the Champagne region and reminiscing on the unforgettable memories of the trip.
Should you be tempted by the different champagne glasses and the array of accessories you will encounter during your visit, these can be purchased directly from the Clos19 website and delivered to your home address without you having to lug them around in your suitcase.
Prices for the three-day experience start at £7,300/€8,400 per couple. This includes five-star accommodation at The Royal Champagne Hotel for two nights, guided visits and tastings at the champagne houses, a chauffeur-driven car and the assistance of a Clos19 ambassador throughout the stay. Additional nights, lunches, dinners, spa treatments and heritage tours of the cathedral and the region are extra and can be arranged on request.
For bookings, a concierge provided by Clos19’s travel partner can be contacted at Clos19.com to create a unique, bespoke experience.